After drivers’ strike, Uber agrees to service charge cut

Our Bureau Kochi | Updated on January 19, 2018

Service charge to be reduced to 20% from 25% in Kochi

Online cab aggregator Uber is said to have agreed to a reduction of its service charge from 25 to 20 per cent in the Kochi region.

This follows a two-day strike by online taxi drivers and the conciliation talks held by the regional joint labour commissioner.

All-Kerala Online Taxi Drivers Union President TRS Kumar told Business Line that Uber had agreed, in principle, to the cut and that a formal agreement would be signed between the union and Uber in the presence of the Joint Labour Commissioner here within a month.

Drivers’ strike

The union, which represents Uber and Ola taxi drivers, had struck work for two days last week to press for a charter of demands that included reduction in the service charge, a permanent wage/benefit structure for the drivers and annual bonus.

Since both the cab aggregators operating in the Kochi region had agreed to consider the main demands, the strike was called off. On an industrial dispute issue raised by the union, the RJLC held a meeting of the representatives of Ola and Uber as well as of the union on January 4 at Kochi.

At the meeting, Kumar said, Uber agreed, in principle, to take the service charge cut. However, Ola was not prepared to reduce its charge from 15 to 10 per cent. (The service charge is the aggregator’s share in the fare paid by the customer.)

He said there was an understanding with the aggregators to resolve the main issues raised by the taxi drivers. The RJLC had asked the two sides to make a draft agreement within 15 days. Kumar hoped a final agreement would be ready by the end of the month.

Growing popularity

There are over 3,000 Uber and Ola taxi drivers in Kochi. The online call taxi system is fast expanding in the region as customers are moving away from the conventional taxis to online ones, mainly because of the cheap fares, ease of hiring a cab, absence of haggling with the drivers and better behaviour by the drivers towards customers.

The increasing acceptance of online cabs has infuriated conventional taxi drivers who claim that their livelihood is being stolen by the new-generation drivers. Online drivers have in the past couple of months faced threats and assaults from the conventional drivers.

The CPI(M) party and its taxi union are actively considering to launch a parallel online taxi service.

The service charge cut, when implemented, is likely to impact the cab aggregators’ operations in other parts of the country as drivers there would also demand the same conditions.

Published on January 06, 2016

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