Disgruntled Uber, Bolt, InDriver and DiDi drivers in South Africa plan to disrupt major roads and ‘critical institutions’ in a three-day strike calling for regulation of the email industry .
The planned disruption includes food delivery services like Uber Eats.
The founder of the Private Public Transport Association (PPTA), Vhatuka Mbelengwa, who is organizing the strike, told eNCA which email platforms exploit the drivers.
“We have long expressed that we are not happy with the state of e-hailing in the country. We are not happy with the way app companies are treating us,” Mbelengwa said.
“We are not happy with the prices, we are not happy with the oversaturation of the market, but above all, we are not happy with the fact that the government has not shown up to defend its people.”
Mbelengwa said drivers want the government to be proactive and speed up regulation of the industry.
“We will picket, we will target critical institutions, we will ask certain people with the proper powers why they are not doing what needs to be done,” Mbelengwa said.
On Tuesday, March 22, 2022, PPTA will file its grievances with Union Buildings and the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition.
On Wednesday, they plan to approach the Transport MEC in Gauteng.
The action will culminate in a nationwide shutdown of services on Thursday, March 24, 2022.
Mbelengwa said disgruntled drivers intended to continue the disruption until the government took concrete and impactful steps to regulate the industry.
Mbelengwa criticized the Department for Transport and the South African National Taxi Council for remaining silent on driver issues.
PPTA wants the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition to clarify the roles and responsibilities of technology platforms like Uber and Bolt.
Mbelengwa alleges that companies have no interest in engaging directly with them.
While platforms call drivers their partners, their decision-making on issues such as pricing does not reflect a partnership, Mbelengwa said.
Mbelengwa said action was needed now to set the rules for how tech companies operate in South Africa.
“Technology disruption is going to be felt across many industries,” he explained.
“If we don’t set a precedent now that this is how technology should behave in this country, we are all doomed.”
The strike comes more than a year after law firms in the UK and South Africa announcement they had joined in a class action lawsuit against Uber on behalf of drivers in South Africa.
Uber classifies its drivers as independent contractors, which means they are not entitled to the legal protections afforded to employees.
The case aims to have the drivers recognized as employees, entitling them to benefits such as overtime and paid holidays.
This followed a UK Supreme Court ruling that Uber drivers should be classified as “workers”.
The UK makes a distinction between ’employees’ and ‘workers’, with the latter receiving only limited benefits.
Uber said most of its drivers preferred to work independently rather than be considered full-fledged employees.
“It speaks to the appeal of Uber’s business model, which offers drivers independent status while allowing them to grow and expand their businesses based on their needs and schedules as well as their skills and business projects, and to pursue any economic activities of their choosing,” the company said.
MyBroadband reached out to Uber, Bolt, DiDi and InDriver for comment, but they did not immediately respond to questions about the strike.