Ola, Uber drivers work in ‘toxic, isolated’ environment with health issues, dwindling earnings: Survey

By: |
August 31, 2020 8:12 PM

The earnings for drivers dropped from Rs 70k-1 lakh per month to Rs 22k-50k over the past four years due to incentives and bonuses being cut coupled with the rise in fuel prices and decrease in per kilometre rates by Ola and Uber, claimed IFAT and ITF.

uber cabs safety screens india72.8 per cent of drivers surveyed in Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad drove for nearly 20 hours a day.

Drivers of app-based transport companies Ola and Uber work in a very toxic and isolated work environment, drive for over 15 hours a day, and still don’t earn enough for survival even as their earnings have dwindled, according to a survey conducted by Hyderabad-based Indian Federation of App-based Transport Workers and UK-based International Transport Workers’ Federation. The survey, with 2,128 respondents, claimed that drivers are working for longer hours “to justify the cost of fuel consumed, to pay the commission/EMI they owe to Ola/Uber.” The earnings, on the other hand, dropped from Rs 70k-1 lakh per month to Rs 22k-50k over the past four years due to incentives and bonuses being cut coupled with the rise in fuel prices and decrease in per kilometre rates by Ola /Uber.” The survey, published last week, was conducted between July and November 2019.

“Earlier they (Ola and Uber) used to say that drivers can earn over Rs 1 lakh but that has not been the case. They call drivers as driver-partners but that deprives them of the benefits as per law because you are a partner. It is just to make them feel happy,” Shaik Salauddin, National General Secretary, IFAT told Financial Express Online. IFAT represents over 20,000 app-based transport workers engaged with companies like Ola, Uber, Swiggy, Zomato etc. The survey was conducted in six cities including Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi NCR, Hyderabad, Jaipur, and Lucknow.

Salauddin added that drivers were earlier earning around Rs 1,000 per day which dropped by 50 per cent because now cabs have increased on the road. “They should have a limit of cabs in a particular city to ensure drivers earnings are enough. More cabs mean fewer rides for drivers and fewer earnings while the demand is not significant.”

Requests to Ola and Uber seeking comments didn’t elicit a response.

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At least 72.8 per cent of respondents in Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad claimed drove for nearly 20 hours a day. This has also led to deteriorating health with 60.7 per cent respondents complaint of backache as a major health issue apart from constipation, liver issues, waist pain and neck pain among the top five health ailments.

The survey noted that 95.3 per cent respondents claimed to have no form of insurance — accidental, health or medical reflecting their inability to secure their health partly due to declining wages. “After paying off their EMIs, penalties and commission to the companies and having less than Rs. 20,000 left at the end of the month,” the survey statement said. Among remaining ones, 17 claimed to have insurance from Ola, nine of them said that Uber has provided them with insurance while 162 respondents claimed insurance from their union and 366 said that they had purchased it.

However, Ola had launched in-trip insurance programme in 2017 for drivers offering a cover of Rs 50,000 with daily benefits in case of hospitalization that cover business losses, apart from taking care of outstanding car loans and children’s education. During Covid, the company had announced coverage of up to Rs 30,000 for drivers and their spouses affected by the pandemic. Uber too had announced term insurance, family health insurance and micro-loan facility in 2018 for drivers under the programme called Uber Care. The company also waived lease rentals, facilitated EMI relief, and offered drivers access to online medical services among other measures during Covid.

The drivers, according to the survey, claimed that Uber and Ola offered no support in cases of harassment and violence on the road. Moreover, it added that the companies don’t intervene during instances including intimidation from traffic police or local authorities, incidents of road rage, violent attack by customers or criminal elements that endanger drivers’ lives.

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