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HomeNewsUber and Bolt drivers in Gauteng go on strike until further notice

Uber and Bolt drivers in Gauteng go on strike until further notice

The e-Hailing Partner’s Council (EPCO) which represents the majority of drivers for e-hailing platforms such as Bolt, Uber, and InDrive has announced that its members are going on strike in Gauteng from today, 16 October, “until further notice.”

This, after the platforms refused to meet EPCO’s demands which included doing away with the dynamic pricing model, removing the Trip Radar, and reducing their commission on trips.

“The pockets of our drivers are empty. Their ability to maintain the vehicles are eroded by day. So that’s why we are embarking on this protest,” said EPCO’s Kenny Moretsele, EWN reports.

“Our clients will have to use other means of transportation because there will be serious disruptions since drivers are on the picket line. Clients can try and request, but they will struggle to get a ride.”

The council has indicated two picketing points – one on Bond Street, Randburg, and the other on Charles Crescent, Kramerville – where its members will be protesting from today onwards.

This follows a two-day strike in September intended to get the attention of Uber and Bolt after EPCO’s demand fell on deaf ears, it said.

EPCO demands

EPCO’s main demands include:

  • Removal of the Trip Radar
  • Reducing commission to 18%
  • Instituting a standard trip rate of R8.50/km
  • Stopping persecution of drivers and affording them a right to reply

The organisation contends that the Trip Radar, which allows drivers to see how many other drivers are interested in accepting a fare, infringes on the driver’s right to choice as they feel forced to accept rides even if the price is too low for it to be profitable, and it is unsafe as it distracts them whilst they’re driving.

In addition, the platforms rely on dynamic pricing for each trip which is based on demand and supply, meaning “there is no transparency [in how prices are set] and no driver knows the rates,” said EPCO.

The companies also charge an upfront commission of approximately 25%, depending on the platform, which the drivers say eats into their bottom line and makes their wages unsustainable, forcing them to choose between necessities such as fuel, maintenance, and living expenses.

Another issue is that drivers do not have a channel for communicating their grievances with their employers.

“Whenever a platform has got an issue with you, they just deactivate you, there is no explanation and you don’t have a right of reply,” said Melithemba Chris Mnguni, EPCO Secretary.

Drivers will regularly be deactivated without prior warning or explanation, and have no idea what they did wrong or how they can get back onto the app, stripping them from their main source of income.

Dekra roadworthy reports are also being “weaponised” against drivers who are unable to afford general repairs and maintenance due to their fluctuating paychecks.

Finally, EPCO wants the partnership that has seen Bajaj Qute cars working for Bolt to come to an end, arguing that these vehicles are unsafe for drivers and passengers alike and are competing directly with taxis, creating even more tension between the two industries.

Until these grievances are addressed, EPCO members will initiate a “tools down” protest in Gauteng at Uber, Bolt, and InDrive offices.

Commuters can still request rides during this time, but EPCO warned that prices might be exorbitant due to the protest.

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