Drivers’ strike led by a small number of individuals: Uber India president Amit Jain

S Prabhakaran March 3, 2017

At a time when Uber has been in the news for all the wrong reasons — from long-drawn protests by drivers across India against the drastic slashing of their incentives to a video showing Uber boss Travis Kalanick shouting at a driver and his subsequent apology — the India head of Uber has attempted to set the record straight on driving with Uber in India in a blog on the Uber website.

Jain, president of Uber India and South Asia, said that the protests and strikes are spearheaded by a handful of drivers, who are forcing other drivers to stay offline.

“Small numbers of individuals, who do not represent the majority of the driver community, have been preventing drivers who want to work from doing so” — Amit Jain, in an Uber blog   

“Small numbers of individuals, who do not represent the majority of the driver community, have been preventing drivers who want to work from doing so,” Jain wrote in the blog.

On drivers’ allegations that their incentives are declining, which is the primary reason for the ongoing agitation in Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru, Jain said that “earnings are not one size fit all.” He also said, “Uber is at heart an entrepreneurial activity.”

According to Jain, currently, “80% of drivers across India who are online for more than six hours a day make between ₹1,500 and ₹2,500 net per day, after Uber’s service fee.”

“80% of drivers across India who are online for more than six hours a day make between ₹1,500 and ₹2,500 net per day, after Uber’s service fee” — Jain  

Drivers, however, deny this.

“It is a lie. Ask him to drive for Uber and see for himself whether he can earn that much in Bangalore. If we do duty for six hours, we can only earn about Rs 500 a day,” said Kiran Gowda, vice-president of the Karunadu Cab Owners and Drivers Association in Bengaluru.

Here is FactorDaily’s calculation of how much a driver in Bengaluru earns.

“Ask him to drive for Uber and see for himself whether he can earn that much in Bangalore. If we do duty for six hours, we can only earn about Rs 500 a day” — Kiran Gowda, vice-president of Karunadu Cab Owners and Drivers Association  

About driver incentives, Jain said: “These incentives vary widely by individual drivers. They are dynamic, as is our business model, and we are constantly seeking to understand, assess and improve both earnings from fares and our incentives structure.”

On the question of whether and why the incentive structure has changed, he said that without doing so it would be “hard to ensure that drivers are compensated for their time when few riders are aware of the service.” He added that driver earnings have evolved over time and some drivers do earn lesser than three years ago.

He added that driver earnings have evolved over time and some drivers do earn lesser than three years ago  

Drivers attached to Ola and Uber in several states have been protesting for the past few months, but the protests recently reached a head and a February 16 protest outside the Ola office in Bengaluru even turned violent with a driver attempting to kill himself. The very next day, the drivers launched an indefinite strike that continues and most cabs went off roads.

On Wednesday, drivers in Bengaluru went on an indefinite hunger strike from Wednesday at Freedom Park.

Both the companies have kept silent on what steps they have taken to resolve the issue.

Earlier, in January, Uber had obtained injunction orders against cab drivers from high courts in Karnataka and Delhi. The injunction restrains unions and people from stopping and blocking cars running for Uber.

Also read:

Ban on Ola, Uber’s carpooling service is regressive: Karnataka IT minister


Lead visual: Uber