Uber’s drivers are taking to the streets across the world to protest their pay rates and what some have described as the ride-sharing giant’s “orgy of greed”.
Drivers in New York, Los Angeles, London and elsewhere have logged out of the Uber app for the day today to voice their anger, mirroring similar scenes across Australia yesterday.
The protests come as Uber prepares for a whopping $100 billion initial public offering (IPO), with many drivers upset investors are set to cash in while they struggle to make ends meet.
Demands include better job security and higher pay, although not everyone is convinced striking is the answer.
The Rideshare Drivers Co-operative said drivers “need rights and a chance to earn a fair wage”.
“Rideshare drivers for years are being underpaid. We scratch for work as the lies of Uber flood the market with drivers, introduce cut-price services and in a non-transparent way gives better-paid work to certain drivers,” the group said in a statement circulated by the Transport Workers Union on Thursday afternoon.
Around Australia today, rideshare drivers and food delivery riders demanded fairness and safety for Uber workers. It’s time to end exploitation in the gig economy! #AusUnions #Uber #UnfairRideshare pic.twitter.com/vGWtN1Iqq9
— TWU Australia (@TWUAus) May 8, 2019
The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain described Uber’s IPO as an “orgy of greed”.
“Uber’s flotation is shaping up to be an unprecedented international orgy of greed as investors cash in on one of the most abusive business models ever to emerge from Silicon Valley,” IWGB branch chair James Farrar said in a statement.
“It is the drivers who have created this extraordinary wealth but they continue to be denied even the most basic workplace rights.”
However, Les Johnson, secretary of the Ride Share Drivers Association Drivers of Australia (RSDAA), says the protests are unlikely to lead to any change.
“Uber is not the kind of company where you can say ‘we demand this, we demand that’ … all they do is put up the shutters,” he tells SmartCompany.
“They’re a company you have to massage gently if you’re going to get anywhere.”
A spokesperson for Uber said it has recently moved to improve safety and insurance for drivers.
“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,” a spokesperson said.
Uber recently introduced tipping into the Australian market, saying the feature would improve conditions for drivers, but the move was panned by many who regarded the move with scepticism.