Uber and Lyft drivers around the Globe held Demonstrations and Strikes in a Lot of cities Wednesday to lobby for better Transparency and Pay, Linking a growing movement to demand better Employee treatment from tech companies.
The presentations, though minimally disruptive to riders, helped raise the profile of the drivers’ attempts to procure more cash and benefits and emphasize a contradiction: Technology has long promised to bring more transparency, but also the algorithms which determine how much drivers are paid have improved opaqueness over their income.
Demonstrations and a few strikes happened in cities such as Chicago, London and Washington as drivers created demands which include greater job security, a livable income, greater transparency at the ride-hailing companies’ fare systems and a limitation on the companies’ commissions to ensure motorists get 80% to 85 percent of a fare.
Uber and Lyft drivers in New York shut off their apps between 7am and 9am and led a procession across the Brooklyn Bridge, organisers said.
Back in San Francisco, several dozen protesters gathered outside Uber’s headquarters, starting at noon, a cheerful demonstration that at one point spilled to a crowded road and blocked traffic as motorists passing by honked in support. The demonstrators, accompanied by a brass ring, wrapped in chants and held signs decrying their decreasing wages. Fair fares! … We won’t drive another day!”
The actions had been timed to draw attention before Uber’s initial public offering on Friday, expected to raise about $9 billion (roughly Rs. 63,000 crores). Academics who study technology workforce trends, however, pointed to what appears to be a growing trend as gig market workers who expected to gain from an explosion in occupations created by tech giants instead feel used due to the shifting nature of the roles and the increasingly complex ways their pay is calculated – especially as executives in those companies make millions.
“In some ways, it is like a first global digital picket line that’s being planted,” explained Katie Wells, a postdoctoral research fellow at Georgetown University analyzing the lifestyles of Uber drivers in the Washington area. “There’s an opportunity with the connectivity of all this technology… (but) promises of information transparency have been cut out for an entire swath of people.”
Instacart had to reverse course before this year on a change to the way it paid its workers after a revolt when it stopped handing over customers’ entire tips, another example of what workers said was a lack of transparency. Doordash and Amazon also have faced similar criticism on gig economy workers’ salary.
Uber and Lyft have introduced”upfront” prices in recent years, showing passengers the estimated cost of a trip to get around the surprise fares that could accompany pricing that surges with demand. But unlike a traditional cab meter system, which conserves drivers a set part of the passenger fare, motorists are rather paid according to time and mileage regardless of the ride’s cost, resulting in consternation regarding the gulf between the companies’ theirs and cut. Previously, the firms gave drivers a percentage of the total fare.
“It’s quite hard to figure out how much you’re really making in the end of the afternoon, particularly after all of your expenses,” said Moira Muntz, a spokeswoman for the Independent Drivers’ Guild, which represents 70,000 ride-hail drivers in New York. “That’s a major part of the transparency issue.”
Uber argued in its own stock submitting this month that its decision to decouple passenger fares out of driver pay was one reason to invest in the company. It helps avoid guaranteeing fares to motorists, something which can pad profits. However, the company also may eat losses if it needs to compensate drivers greater than the usual rider is willing to pay.
The new system has defeated many motorists, who say their paychecks have diminished as it’s become more difficult to capitalise on driving hours when passengers are ready to pay more.
“It was the passenger pays’this much’ and you get’this’ percentage of it,” explained Steve Gregg, 51, an Uber driver and organiser with Gig Working Increasing, a labor group that helped arrange the protest in front of Uber headquarters at San Francisco. “They eliminated that. What they really did is create opportunity for a much higher degree of exploitation.”
Gregg said his pay has dropped to about $900 (approximately Rs. 63,000) per week for 60 hours of work after expenses, from $1,200 (approximately Rs. 84,000) to get 40 hours two years back. He attributes that in part to the change in fare structure, in addition to lower distance-based prices.
Uber said Wednesday the strikes did not have a significant impact on wait times, fares or the number of motorists logged into the app in some of those cities in which the demonstrations happened. The company added that it provides”complete transparency” on driver fares and motorist earnings on each trip, giving drivers the choice to see their distance and mileage-based calculations inside the program, including trip by trip and total earnings. The system is comparable to an itemised receipt, but not a live taxi meter.
Lyft explained that motorists’ hourly earnings have improved over the past two years, and that drivers take home more than $20 (roughly Rs. 1,400) per hour on average – although the firm did not provide a median salary as an illustration of how that figure interpreted across its contract work force. A attack ahead of the organization’s IPO in March had a negligible effect on delay times and fares.
The strikes could still have an effect on passenger fares and wait times in some cities. The strikes were expected to span from two to 12 hours, depending on the town. Elsewhere, organisers advised passengers to boycott the programs between specific hours in solidarity.
Many motorists have put in long hours this week to make the hours up, organisers said.
Meanwhile, the pro-labour political leaders voiced support for the demonstrations Wednesday. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, sent an early afternoon tweet highlighting that the pay disparity between Uber’s top five executives, including CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s $45 million (roughly Rs. 314 crores) in yearly compensation, and its drivers.
“I stand with striking Uber and Lyft drivers today,” he said.
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, asked passengers to prevent using Uber.
“Stand with those workers on strike now, across the united kingdom and the world, asking you to not use Uber between 7am and 4pm,” he wrote on Twitter, adding the hashtag #UberShutDown.