It is normal practice for senior recruitment analyst Patricia Pereira to hail an Ola or Uber from home in Lower Parel, Mumbai, to her office which is located around 5 km away. But she was left shell-shocked on Monday at around 9.45 am when she noticed the same ride would cost her almost 3 times the amount she would normally pay.
“I hail a cab and the amount usually shows between Rs 70 and Rs 80. But today it showed Rs 220 for my trip,” she told Moneycontrol.
There were many like Pereira in Mumbai who either reached late to work or had to opt for an alternative means of transport, thanks to surge prices and unavailability of cabs due to the indefinite strike called by drivers of taxi service aggregators Ola and Uber.
The Maharashtra Navnirman Vahatuk Sena (affiliated to Raj Thackeray-led Navnirman Sena) , a drivers’ union in Mumbai, called for the strike over the alleged discriminatory trade practices, by the taxi hailing service providers – Bengaluru-based Ola and Uber.
While it is believed that aggregators charge around 26 percent as service charge from drivers for ferrying customers via their taxi hailing apps, it is alleged that first preference is given to company-owned cabs.
This, drivers said leads to unfair practices and those who have their own cabs end up earning less.
One driver on the condition of anonymity said that as we are dependent on the app to give us business, it is easy for Ola to change preferences and give their company-owned drivers more business.
“Such practices should end and only then we would be able to earn what we were promised when we joined Ola.”
Jolly Gilder, an Ola driver in Mumbai said that he may not be driving today. “I’m not sure what the demands of the union are, but some drivers I know are working today. I’ll see what the position is and only then take my car out if it is feasible.”
“I would rather avoid getting in to any trouble,” he said.
Even as people in Mumbai faced issues early on Monday, commuters in Delhi and Bengaluru were more or less unaffected. According to reports, although there were calls from drivers of these cities to support the protest, many of them went to work as the indefinite strike commenced.
Similar protests held earlier fizzled out as drivers were wary of losing out on the day’s earnings.
Nonetheless, President of Maharashtra Navnirman Vahatuk Sena (MNVS) Sanjay Naik was quoted by IANS as saying, “The strike has been launched from midnight in support of various demands of the drivers who are being meted out injustice by the companies. If the government fails to intervene, they shall go on an indefinite strike.”
He went on to state that thousands of Ola and Uber drivers in cities from Maharashtra like Aurangabad, Nashik and Pune were on strike to support the cause.moneycontrol