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Ola, Uber drivers call for 5-day strike to protest against low earnings

Hyderabad: Ola and Uber drivers in Hyderabad have called for a five-day strike from December 31 to January 4 to protest against low earnings due to more number of vehicles and insufficient bookings. The representatives of all cab driver associations in the state have assembled at Gachibowli on Friday and decided to stop the services in the city from the midnight onwards.

Telangana State Cabs and Bus Operators Association (TSCBOA), Telangana State Cab Owners and Drivers Association (TSCODA) and Telangana Cabs Association (TCA) are the active bodies that represent around one lakh drivers working for Ola and Uber in the city. They have asked the companies to stop new registrations on their platforms as the existing cab owners are not in a position to generate minimum business.

The associations alleged that the managements of both the cab hailing firms have not responded to their demands. A group of cab drivers who have protested at the Ola office in Kukatpally were allegedly beaten up by the bouncers on Thursday.

Both Ola and Uber did not respond to calls.

“At least 100 cab drivers went to Ola office to appeal their concerns to the management. The bouncers have stopped them from entering into the premises. There was a scuffle between the bouncers and the drivers. A case has been filed against the local management of the taxi aggregator after receiving the complaint from the drivers,” Kukatpally Inspector of Police Ch Kushalkar informed.

According to TSCBOA President Syed Nizamuddin, this is not the first instance of such a harsh attitude towards drivers. On November 30, cab drivers Satyaprasad and Raji Reddy were allegedly beaten up by the bouncers when they went to Uber office in Madhapur. Two cases have been filed against Uber management in Madhapur Police Station.

Ola and Uber have attracted many people to join the cab-leasing programme that allows them to run a car on lease and earn Rs 60,000-70,000 per month. Several new drivers have joined in this programme to own a car at the end of four years with a minimum payment.

Currently, over 20,000 cars have been registered with Ola while more than 33,000 cabs with Uber run in the city. TSCBOA claims that Ola and Uber managements are giving more booking-calls to the new drivers who took cars on their cab-leasing programme. This has resulted in low earnings to the cab owners who kept their vehicles with the company from the beginning.

A cab owner-cum-driver Mohammed Siraj Pasha said: “In the past few weeks, I had bookings after waiting for 10-13 hours at a major location like an airport, while the leased-cab drivers have received bookings within one hour. Earlier, I used to put in 12 hours for nine rides to earn a minimum business guarantee (MBG) of Rs 2,200. Now, I need to work for more than 18 hours for the same.”

Ola pays an MBG of Rs 2,200 for nine rides a day and Rs 5,800 for 17 rides a day, even if the rides worth is below that amount. Similarly, Uber pays Rs 1,000 for rides worth Rs 600 per day, Rs 1,400 for rides worth Rs 800 per day, Rs 5,800 for rides worth Rs 2,700 per day and Rs 7,000 for rides worth Rs 3,300 per day.

The cab drivers have been working for more than 18 hours a day to avail these incentives. The cab drivers say that with inadequate bookings, they are suffering low income and unable to pay the car loan instalments and other expenses. The drivers have to bear 30-35 per cent of their income for fuel expenses, 20 per cent aggregator’s commission and 7 per cent taxes, according to the cab associations.

PTI