Drivers working for app-based taxis Uber and Ola protest outside Uber’s office in Mumbai on Monday.(AP)
Drivers working for app-based taxis Uber and Ola protest outside Uber’s office in Mumbai on Monday.(AP)

No dialogue between drivers and Ola-Uber; strike to continue on Wednesday in Mumbai

Protestors warn of ‘chakka jam’ at city’s entries/exits; riders experience longer waits, higher fares
By Kailash Korde | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON OCT 24, 2018 11:23 AM IST

The strike by one group of drivers of app-based taxis of aggregator companies Ola and Uber entered day three with both the companies and protesting drivers refusing to back down. No dialogue has taken place between the two parties. Representatives of the drivers have threatened to “intensify the strike” after Wednesday.

The drivers launched their strike on Monday in Mumbai, under the banner of Maharashtra Rajya Rashtriya Kamgar Sangh (MRRKS). They want revisions in the regulations guiding fares and commissions. “Ola and Uber are asking us to call off the strike without fulfilling their [the drivers’] demands. However, we have conveyed our stand that the strike will continue till the demands are fulfilled,” said Sunil Borkar, secretary of MRRKS.

On Tuesday afternoon, Borkar had a meeting with drivers and informed them that their union president Sachin Ahir, who is also the Mumbai president of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), will meet union members on the issue on Wednesday, at noon. “We may intensify the strike by launching chakka jam (blocking all traffic) agitation at four toll plazas at Mumbai entry/exit point, after the meeting,” said Borkar.

Uber stated that they have requested the law enforcing agencies for implementation of the high court’s injunction that restrains unions from going on strike. In a statement, Uber said, “We request the support of law enforcement to enforce the court’s order and hope that it will enable drivers to stay behind the wheel, something many have been telling us, without fear or harassment.” On social media, some commuters reported that drivers were threatened for not going off-road. Passenger Kruti Parekh, who had booked a cab through Ola, wrote on Twitter, “On my way to my destination, goons stop my cab and stop my ride.” Parekh alleged that Ola’s support team did not respond to her calls. Ola is yet to issue a comment on the strike.

For city commuters, the strike has meant longer waits and increased cab fares. A ride to Borivli (West) from Elphinstone Road cost Rs1,025 during peak hours in the evening on Tuesday. This was significantly higher than the Rs880 the same journey cost on Tuesday morning. The normal fare for this ride is between Rs500 to Rs600.

The strike began on Monday, with some of the drivers who have signed up with Ola and Uber in Mumbai demanding revised rates because they claim they are not earning enough, particularly after the recent spike in fuel prices.

According to RTO officials, Mumbai has approximately 50,000 app-based cabs.

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