Indian drivers face the heat as Uber plans IPO

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New Delhi– As Uber drivers planned a global strike on Wednesday ahead of the ride-hailing giant’s massive initial public offering (IPO), Uber drivers in India said they are facing the heat as cash incentives have considerably gone down while work hours have gone up.

Drivers in cities like Los Angeles, New York City, London and Tokyo were to join the strike and log off from the apps on Wednesday.

According to Santosh, an Uber driver in Delhi-NCR, the initial adrenaline rush is over and it has been difficult to run the family as income is low, incentives are down and stress levels are high owing to the pressure to pay monthly EMIs towards car and home loans.

“When I joined Uber, things were just going fine. Now, with low cash incentives, I have to drive for long hours to make the ends meet,” Santosh told IANS.

Dharam and Shamu, both Uber drivers, also echoed Santosh’s view.

An email sent to Uber India for a comment went unanswered.

Uber launched its services in India in 2013 with its UberBLACK service and launched its premium UberX service in 2014.

Uber currently operates in 31 cities in the country and aims to take its services to other, deeper parts of the country.

The global ride-hailing platform in January announced the appointment of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kharagpur alumnus Pavan Vaish as the new Head of Central Operations.

Uber filed its IPO process last month. It would be listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol “UBER”.

The company is seeking a market value just above $90 billion in its IPO, according to documents filed with regulators. The ride-hailing company has also announced one-off bonus for drivers as it prepared to go public.

As of December 31, 2018, it had 91 million, or 9.1 crore, monthly active platform users. There were 3.9 million, or 39 lakh, drivers on the platform by the end of 2018.

Uber and Lyft drivers in cities, including Los Angeles, New York City and London, were set to join the strike and log off from the apps (from 7 am to 9 am ET) on Wednesday.

“Wall Street investors are telling Uber and Lyft to cut down on driver income, stop incentives and go faster to Driverless Cars,” Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, was quoted as saying by the CNET.

“With the IPO, Uber’s corporate owners are set to make billions, all while drivers are left in poverty and go bankrupt,” she added.

In a statement to CNET, an Uber representative said: “Drivers are at the heart of our service — we can’t succeed without them — and thousands of people come into work at Uber every day focused on how to make their experience better, on and off the road”. (IANS)


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