Uber and Bolt drivers strike in Cape Town

Uber and Bolt drivers in Cape Town have embarked on a strike demanding a bigger cut on earnings and the fast-tracking of permits for e-hailing operators in the Western Cape.

Disgruntled drivers started protesting on Wednesday when they went to Bolt’s offices in the city to submit a memorandum with their demands.

They continued their strike on Thursday by submitting a memorandum to the office of Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.

In addition to a faster process for renewing permits, which are currently suffering a significant backlog, the drivers want a moratorium on the impounding of vehicles.

Uber Union chair Siyabonga Hlabisa told Fin24 that drivers want Uber to cut its commission from 25% to 10% and increase drivers’ rate per kilometre to R10.

Protesting drivers gave the companies 14 days to respond to their demands. Their demands are shown in the video below.

Head of communications for Uber in South Africa, Mpho Sebelebele, told MyBroadband the company was aware of the protest.

“We have and will continue to engage drivers directly using our various engagement channels to work towards addressing the issues because we take them seriously,” Sebelebele stated.

Sebelebele said that Uber had already implemented several fare increases in 2022, with the latest being announced this past July.

“We recognise the pressures drivers are under, including the increasing cost of living,” Sebelebele stated.

“It’s important to understand that fares do fluctuate as a normal part of any business based on various factors such as seasonality and the macroeconomic environment.”

“Recently, we have seen driver earnings begin to recover in South Africa and we are constantly looking for ways of helping drivers increase their earnings on the platform while providing riders with more cost-effective options of moving around.”

Uber Bolt headline

Bolt country manager for South Africa, Takura Malaba, said that the company was also engaging its driver community and would further engage with the group of striking drivers to better understand their grievances.

“Bolt respects every driver’s right to protest, and we appeal to drivers to do so legally, peacefully, and without impacting the rights of other drivers who choose to continue to operate and earn an income,” Malaba said.

Malaba said Bolt balanced the earning needs of drivers with affordability for passengers when setting prices.

“More people will choose to ride with Bolt if rates are affordable, which means that drivers have more opportunities to earn money,” Malaba stated.

Nevertheless, the company has increased rates by up to 20% earlier this year, with hikes on the minimum fare, start rate, per kilometre rate, and the trip cancellation rate.

Malaba added that Bolt’s commission structure was lower than what many other similar platforms charge.

“Drivers that use Bolt keep between 6% and 10% more per trip than drivers using other platforms,” Malaba said.

Malaba also addressed drivers’ concerns that they were paying for discounts and special offers on the app.

“Drivers never pay for discounts because Bolt covers the cost of all discounts and promotions.,” Malaba said.

“Some confusion around this issue may have happened because a passenger on a discounted ride that pays cash, pays the discounted amount to the driver.|

“However, Bolt pays the difference — the cost of that discount — to drivers in the weekly pay-outs.”

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Uber and Bolt drivers strike in Cape Town