Pune: Drivers of app-based cab aggregators Uber and Ola went on an indefinite strike across the country on Monday, demanding extra pay due to a surge in the number of cabs on the two platforms and incentive payments.
Commuters in Pune were affected badly. In Mumbai, the situation was worse. In Pune, around 20,000 cabs are associated with Uber and Ola.
Guru Katti, President, Swaraj Vahan Chalak-Malak Sangathan, told Sakal Times, “The strike has been called by Maharashtra Navnirman Vahatuk Sena, Mumbai, and we are only supporting them. The companies, Ola and Uber, promised drivers they would earn Rs 1.5 lakh per month, but drivers are not earning what they were promised. They are unable to even cover their costs.”
The strike began on Sunday midnight. Maharashtra Navnirman Vahatuk Sena (MNVS) is the transport union wing of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.
The MNS workers in Pune forced the cab drivers to participate in the strike though they didn't want to and some workers used abusive language, forcing passengers to get down from the cab.
They then had to use auto-rickshaws, who, taking advantage of the situation, started overcharging and refusing to ply by meter.
In Mumbai, the worst-hit were people proceeding to airport or railway stations, besides commuters rushing for business meetings. "If the government fails to intervene, the drivers will go on an indefinite strike," said Sanjay Naik, President of MNVS.
He said thousands of drivers of Ola and Uber had joined the protest in Aurangabad, Nashik, Pune and other cities in Maharashtra as part of an all-India agitation.
Late to work
Vijaya R Laxmi, an IT professional in Hinjawadi, booked an Uber cab in Wakad but when she reached Wakad Chowk, some MNS workers stopped the cab and forced her to alight on Monday.
“I didn’t know that Ola and Uber drivers were protesting today. However when the driver told me, I was certain that political parties would create trouble. The MNS activists stopped the cab I was in and forced me to get down. My shift starts at 2 pm and I had a meeting at 2.30 pm, that I missed. The police were not there to stop these workers,” Laxmi said.
Mohammad Usman, a frequent user of Uber from Aundh, said, “I was in a hurry to reach Lohegaon, but today I was unable to book my cab. The app was showing no cabs in my area. I booked an auto and paid him Rs 335. If cab service had been available I would have spent Rs 150 or 200.”
No police support
A spokesperson from Ola said, “We have been informed by the police that they have proactively taken all necessary steps to ensure the safety of commuters during their cab rides in the city.”
A statement from Uber said, “We regret the disruption caused to our rider and driver community by a small group of individuals. We remain committed to serving the city, ensuring driver partners can continue to access stable earning opportunities while giving riders a convenient option to get around their city. The Hon’ble Bombay High Court issued an injunction prohibiting unions, their leaders and anybody else from obstructing the activities of Uber driver partners. We welcome this and hope that it will enable drivers to stay behind the wheel, something many have been telling us they wish to do. We have been listening to our driver partners all along and are committed to ensuring that Uber remains an attractive entrepreneurial opportunity for them. While the authorities have taken steps to ensure minimal disruption to our rider and driver communities, we hope that they will continue to enforce the order passed by the High Court.” (With inputs from IANS)