Uber drivers give lukewarm response to protest

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on May 9, 2019 - Duration: 02:13s

Uber drivers give lukewarm response to protest

Activists called on Uber and Lyft drivers to strike by turning off their apps for a day and joining a rally to protest ahead of Uber's IPO.

The response was lukewarm.

Jane Lanhee Lee reports.

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Uber drivers give lukewarm response to protest

Turn off your Uber and Lyft apps and strike against companies exploiting drivers.

That was the message in several cities around the world Wednesday (May 8) where protests were held ahead of Uber's stock market listing this week.

But turnout was weak in New York, London, and in Uber's hometown.

SOUNDBITE: REUTERS REPORTER, JANE LANHEE LEE, saying: "I'm Reuters Jane Lanhee Lee here in San Francisco in front of the Uber headquarters where about a hundred drivers and activists have gathered to protest the company.

Despite a strike that's been called asking drivers to turn off their Uber and Lyft apps, it took me 3 minutes to hail an Uber driver who brought me here today." When I asked him why he wasn't striking my driver told me he had not heard about it.

But he wasn't turning off his App after I told him either and that's the challenge.

There are 3 million Uber drivers around the world and many of them drive part time.

Rebecca Stack-Martinez is a driver activist in San Francisco.

SOUNDBITE: DRIVER ACTIVIST, REBECCA STACK-MARTINEZ, saying: "We definitely have you some unique challenges as gig workers in organizing.

For example as rideshare drivers we're isolated by nature.

There is no directory out there of who's driving, how many drivers, how we can reach them, right.

And so we have to be really creative about how we get to drivers and get them involved in the movement." Still she said the global strike called today was a success to get the message out.

And indeed at the Uber headquarters the media turnout was impressive.

Uber has continuously beaten back attempts to make it treat drivers as employees, arguing that its main business is a platform that brings riders and drivers together.

And the money-losing company is under pressure to cut costs.

Something this driver has noticed.

SOUNDBITE: UBER/LYFT DRIVER, MUSTAFA ALHAFIDH, saying: "Last year I could save a lot of, for my vacation.

This year I paid my tax with my credit card.

I just paid off my credit this month.

It wasn't easy to pay this month." Shares will be priced on Thursday with trading beginning in Uber shares Friday.

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