The fight between cab aggregators and driver partners just doesn’t seem to end. On Thursday, over a lakh drivers from Drivers and Owners Association who are attached to Ola and Uber called for an indefinite strike in Bengaluru. The offices of the aggregators have also been ransacked. While this spells problems for the companies, the commuters are the ones most affected, with many finding it difficult to book cabs and, if they manage to, having to fork out more than the usual for their rides.
One commuter had to bribe the driver with the promise of an extra Rs 200 for an airport ride.
“The unions are stopping the cabs and are demanding that the commuters leave the vehicle and they aren’t even letting us take the vehicle to the side of the road,” said a driver partner associated with Ola and Uber.
The strike in Benglauru was called for better incentives and for the ceasing of attachment of newer cabs by the companies, citing that the move affects the bookings of the existing vehicles.
There have been spate of driver protests against the two major taxi aggregators recently. Just last month, driver partners for Ola and Uber had protested in the city, demanding higher incentives, lesser number of rides and more incentives for share and pool services.
Following that protest, the government had called for the banning of Ola Share and Uber Pool services. Following Then, Ola and Uber Drivers in Delhi too began to protest. The president of the Sarvodaya Drivers Union in Delhi had even taken the protest to a gherao to the transport minister’s house, with a few members still demonstrating at Jantar Mantar. Demands include a 24×7 call centre, accident and health insurance, an increase in tariffs from the present Rs 6 per km, lesser targets, and higher incentives.
The stalemate in Delhi has been going on for 11 days now. In Bengaluru, the union decided to go on strike after the discussions with both cab aggregators companies and State transport commissioner did not bear fruit.
As per the rules, rates for AC and non-AC taxis are fixed at Rs. 19.50 per km and Rs 14.50 per km respectively, but the drivers get out of each ride is between Rs 4 and Rs 5. As a result, those drivers who earned Rs 80,000-1,00,000 are now earning around Rs 15,000. Recently, to fight Uber's growing presence, Ola had slashed its prices by 20 percent in Bengaluru.
On their blog Ola also said:
It has been our constant endeavour to provide driver partners with adequate opportunities for growth, financially and as entrepreneurs. We are working closely with local authorities to resolve issues at the earliest and to ensure that mobility needs of customers continue to be served uninterrupted.
Uber and Ola have another battle that is yet to be fought — the ban on Ola Share and uberPOOL by the Government of Karnataka. Currently, the aggregators and the government are on a cease-fire.
This is not the first time the cab aggregators have been caught in a jam. Since their launch, there have been regular run-ins with the Karnataka government. However, they are not the only ones to have been accused of ‘traffic violations’. Shuttle bus aggregator ZipGo had to shut down in 2015 after facing a similar situation.