Uber drivers in South Africa
(Photo Illustration by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
  • A strike by Uber and Bolt drivers continued for a second day on Wednesday.
  • A procession, claimed to have numbered 500 cars, took part in a go slow, driving at at 20 km per hour to the offices of transport minister Fikile Mbalula.
  • The MEC of transport in Gauteng is due to meet with the the companies on Thursday to discuss a way forward.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

A strike by Uber and Bolt drivers continued for a second day on Wednesday, after some drivers from both e-hailing services went offline on Tuesday in protest over money and safety concerns, among other issues.

According to Carol Phadu, chairperson of the Private Public Transport Association, about 500 drivers staged a go slow earlier in the day and drove at 20 km per hour to transport minister Fikile Mbalula’s offices in Pretoria.

The association said it had marched to Mbalula’s offices on Wednesday to seek answers from the minister. On Tuesday, the association and drivers met with the Gauteng MEC Jacob Mamabolo. He is now due to meet the companies on Thursday.

“Last year we handed over our memorandum to minister Mbalula, till this day he hasn’t replied, so hence today we are going to his offices to seek answers,” Phadu told Business Insider.

The drivers are calling for the government to regulate Uber and Bolt more stringently, and to force the e-hailing companies to adopt a fair pricing strategy.

“Since the beginning of e-hailing, Bolt for example, since it came to South Africa, their base price has been R21, petrol has been going up and down and now it’s definitely high," said Phadu.

A spokesperson for Uber said the company was aware of Wednesday's protest by a group of e-hailing drivers. The company said the protest affected some riders in terms of waiting times.

"We are doing our best to ensure limited impact to the reliability of the app," the spokesperson said.

Apart from the structure of payments to drivers, grievances include safety for both the drivers and clients, and the blocking of drivers.

There has been discontent among some Bolt drivers since July last year, when the company first introduced its Bolt Go product, with fares 20% cheaper than standard rates. They launched a strike in protest last year.

READ | Bolt Go can be cheaper than driving your own car - but waiting times are long, and drivers few

In November, Uber followed suit with its cut-price version, with trips starting at R19

Mamabolo told Business Insider that he would be meeting with a delegation of 10 representatives from the e-hailing industry on Thursday to explore solutions for how to assist the drivers.

“I’m very sympathetic to their demands, to their situations and to what they go through as stated in their memorandum,” Mamabolo said.

He wants to avoid chaos in the industry.

“We believe that that cry for help should be understood and met and we will then see how to take it forward,” Mamabolo said. 

Last year, the Competition Commission issued a scathing report about the practices of e-hailing services in South Africa, claiming that some of their drivers are earning below minimum wage.

In addition, the Commission noted that the corporate tax paid by Uber and Bolt appears to be "disproportionately low" compared to the revenue they generated in South Africa.

Uber is facing a class action suit from some of its South African drivers, who are currently self-employed independent contractors and have limited rights.

A team of local lawyers, supported by a London firm which recently won a landmark case against Uber in the UK, are currently preparing a case to have Uber drivers be identified as employees and afforded rights through the Labour Relations Act and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. 

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