Uber and others ride strike out as drivers return to duty

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  • Drivers on Uber and other e-hailing ride platforms returned to duty on Friday morning after a strike that frustrated these platforms this past week.
  • Organisations representing the drivers called the strike a successful step in ending "exploitation" at the hands of these platforms. 
  • Convenor of the Unity in Diversity coalition of drivers, Melithemba Mnguni, accused Bolt of deactivating the accounts of drivers that participated in the strike.

Drivers of Uber and other ride e-hailing platforms returned to duty on Friday as the strike that frustrated the platform's service this past week came to an end. However, drivers say they will continue to push for change on the platforms they say are exploiting them.

Participating drivers called the strike a success, but will wait for feedback from discussions with city authorities where they are represented by the Department of Transport.

Striking drivers, including those from e-hailing services Bolt and Didi, had said the platforms exploited their labour.

On Tuesday, drivers marched to the Department of Trade Industry and Competition's headquarters in Pretoria to demand that the government regulate the e-hailing platforms.

READ | 'We are not making any profit' - Uber, Bolt drivers on strike

Cape Town Drivers' Association chairperson Siyabonga Hlabisa said drivers had returned to duty on Friday morning and would wait for an update on discussions between the government and the platforms, which they expected to come next week.

"The strike has ended today. We are back in full operation today. We are not yet in a position where we received anything. We used government as our messenger. Government is expected to organise a meeting. We gave Cape Town two business days to respond," said Hlabisa.

Hlabisa said the drivers that participated in the strike considered it a success as it led to discussions between the government and the platforms on matters including the status of drivers as contractors and not full-time employees.

"We are glad that the strike has gone successfully. We would like to give the department a chance to engage with all parties and will report back to our members on what has happened. By Tuesday or Wednesday we will know if we are headed to something," Hlabisa said.

READ | Class action lawsuit: 'Exploited' SA Uber drivers must be recognised as employees - lawyers

Convenor of the Unity in Diversity coalition of drivers Melithemba Mnguni told Fin24 that the strike has been suspended, but that drivers on the Bolt platform had complained of having their accounts deactivated after participating in the strike.

"The strike is over for now while we are in engagements with the relevant stakeholders in addressing our grievances. We just have an issue with Bolt - they deactivated a lot of drivers for participating in the strike and we are afraid that [could be] a trigger," said Mnguni.

Fin24 formally requested comment from Uber as well as Bolt on the strike and claims from organisations representing drivers, but neither platform was able to comment immediately. Their comments will be added to this article as and when it is provided.

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