Irked by their steadily reducing income, increasing penalties and a cut on incentive policies of app based aggregators such as Ola and Uber, cabbies attached to the companies are planning to launch an agitation this week. If the cabs go on strike, this will be the first one for app-based cabs.
This may cause inconvenience to commuters in the city because these cabs have rapidly become popular since their inception in 2014. The agitation may result in a surge in fares. Delhi and several southern metro cities such as Bengaluru and Hyderabad have already faced such protests.
After an informal meeting at Bandra-Kurla Complex on Sunday, the cabbies threatened the agitation against the companies. The group of 200-300 drivers met to plan further course of action and a series of meetings in the next two days. As part of the protest, they are planning to park at least 500 to 1,000 taxis outside the offices of Ola and Uber, from February 28. They are also planning to go on strike if their demands are ignored by the companies.
“Until three months back, the business model benefited everyone — the company, the drivers and the customers as well. But the companies started unethical and unfair trade practices, forcing us to take this step,” said a driver from Andheri. According to the cabbies, who work in the driver-partner model, the companies are not safeguarding the assurance of a minimum daily booking and instead, divert most of the bookings to the company owned cabs. The drivers also alleged that DDD (Driver Denied Duty) penalties had been slapped on them.
Another taxi driver said that because of the steps adopted by the companies, their daily earnings had taken a hit. “We took loans to purchase the vehicles, trusting the assured business guarantee scheme that the companies initiated. Now, in wake of the new norms, the earnings have gone down making it difficult for us to pay the EMI,” he said.
A taxi union leader said that a section of over 500 drivers, whose vehicles were attached with Ola and Uber, have come together to press for their demands. They have been in tuch through over 20 WhatsApp groups for the past month and most of them think that striking is the best move forward.
Mumbai has over 30,000 app-based taxis and the state government is in the process of bringing in new rules to regulate app based aggregators with the City Taxi Rules 2016. There is lot of pressure on the government from the drivers of traditional cabs and auto rickshaws.
Meanwhile, Ola did not respond to queries on the issue. Uber refuted the driver’s claim about unethical practices. “At Uber, we are committed to the highest ethical business standards and indulge in fair play. There is no preferential treatment for anyone,”said an Uber spokesperson.