South African’s are accustomed to striking taxi’s and their respective organizations, but it’s unusual for e-haling companies Taxify and Uber to be brought down by internal protests.
Especially when considering that both e-haling companies and drivers have been victims of violent attacks at the hands of the traditional taxi industry. It seems they’ve picked up a few tips in battle, and are now reportedly blocking traffic and intimidating non-striking drivers in Gauteng.
Uber and Taxify drivers joined forces early on Tuesday morning to protest the hiring of new drivers by the e-cab conglomerates. Striking drivers met at Zoo Lake in Johannesburg and dispatched participating members to various popular pick-up locations in a bid to convince online-drivers to join the protest action.
Sowetan Live reports that some non-conforming drivers had their cell phones confiscated and were prevented from collecting passengers.
While Times Live reports that dissenting Uber and Taxify drivers have commenced a ‘go-slow’ protest on the M1 highway North of Johannesburg, causing huge delays for motorists.
Drivers from both companies are completing the go-slow all their way to their respective head offices, where they will be delivering a memorandum detailing their concerns.
Protesting operators have various grievances which are addressed in the memorandums, but spoke to The Citizen concerning the main reasons behind the protest.
Vhatuka Mbelengwa, who represents an organisation involved in the strike known as the Groups Task Team, said:
“The fuel price is a national problem; we are simply saying that since the rise in the price we have seen no increases.”
Mbelengwa also complained about an influx of new drivers, saying that it spread the e-hailing pot too thin, and led to overworked conditions and increased vehicle maintenance.
Uber has released an official statement, stating:
“We respect driver-partners as valuable partners with a voice and a choice and we want driver-partners to feel they can talk to us about anything at any time.”
A text message regarding the proposed strike was circulated to Uber and Taxify drivers on Monday, it read:
“We are pleading with all drivers to go offline. If you are online, no one will be accountable for your loss, and your safety is not guaranteed.”
Both Uber and Taxify say they are willing to engage with drivers, and that their services are still available to commuters.