On October 23, 2018, drivers of cab aggregators, Ola and Uber from Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane and other nearby areas went on an indefinite strike demanding higher income, as their earnings suffered due to fuel price hike. The drivers' other demands included a hike in the base fare to Rs 100-150 and a per km rate in the range of Rs 18 to 23. The strike was led by the Maharashtra Rajya Rashtriya Kamgar Sangh(MRKS), a union of app-based cab drivers.
The Ola and Uber strike continued on October 24 and October 25, 2018, affecting aggregator cab services in Mumbai and nearby areas. Cab managements said that some cabs stayed away fearing violence and damage to their cars. On the same day, Uber Management shut its office at Andheri fearing violence and protests.
Ola and Uber's strike continued on the fourth day as well. Sunil Borkar, secretary of the MRKS told mid-day that the agitation would continue. "Our top leaders will arrive on October 25, 2018, for a meeting on the issue," he said.
The ongoing strike hit commuters badly as many kaali-peeli cabs also started overcharging in Mumbai. Cab-hailing app S3, introduced in May this year, came to the passenger's rescue. "I was looking for an Ola or Uber cab for 30 minutes on October 24, 2018, and finally decided to try the S3 app. I got a cab within minutes and that, too, at normal rates," said Arvind Sherigar, who travels to Goregaon from Sion daily.
Ola and Uber's strike stretched to day five as the demands were yet to be met. A meeting between the cab drivers' union and Maharashtra Transport Minister Diwakar Raote which was held on October 25, 2018, failed to resolve the issue.
"The cab aggregators are exploiting the drivers, hence, the government should intervene and look into their demands, which are completely valid. The strike is creating a lot of inconvenience for Mumbaikars," said Dhananjay Munde, Maharashtra Opposition leader.
The labour union leaders had said that they would take a morcha to the Mantralaya and also stage a hunger strike if there was no response from the Maharashtra government.
On October 27, 2018, a flyer, who had just landed in Mumbai, tweeted saying he had arrived more than an hour ago but could not get a cab owing to the Ola and Uber strike. He tweeted, "Looks like I'm walking to the station."
While many app-based cabbies remained offline, it was the kaali-peeli cabs and cool cabs that cashed in on the deficit of Ola and Uber.
Pioneering radio cab service Meru was back on the streets in full strength as the strike entered Day 10. The ride-hailing company witnessed a massive jump in the number of its driver partners. Officially registered and verified with state transport department's radio taxi scheme, it was offering a 'good deal' to the drivers, and hence, they approached the company in droves.
"More than 12,000 driver partners have joined our platform; we are inducting them after due verification," said Nilesh Sangoi, CEO of Meru Cabs, while speaking to mid-day. He further added, "At the same time, we are seeing huge demand from consumers. There is a significant spike in the number of rides booked and app registrations."
The Ola and Uber's cab aggregators strike got more complicated on the 11th day on November 2, 2018, as Ola and Uber's management refused to meet the striking drivers and their labour union representatives, which led to more confusion.
A labour union leader was quoted saying, "No one is looking into our demands, not even Maharashtra Transport Minister Diwakar Raote, who belongs to the Shiv Sena. Hence, we plan to take our driver partners outside Matoshree, the Sena chief's home."
In pic: A aggregator cab driver being roughed up for plying his vehicle during the strike.
The strike was called off on November 3, following assurances from the aggregators and the state administration that the cab aggregators would prepare a new fare chart on the price-per-km basis by mid-November, which will take into consideration the rising fuel prices.
Maharashtra Rajya Rashtriya Kamgar Sangh leader Sachin Ahir, who led the strike said, "We're willing to consider the new proposals. The second round of meetings will be held again on November 15. We hope we don't have to go on strike again. We apologise to commuters for all the inconvenience."
Devoid of livelihood for over 10 days, some desperate cabbies from Ola and Uber had decided to return to work, even with the threat of getting attacked. A message that went viral among cabbies said, "Can't wait anymore as [we] can't let kids and family die of hunger or [be] thrown out of home for not paying rent, or [out of] school for not paying fees."
Ansar, an Ola driver partner, said "I've been working with Ola for over a year now and it has been a happy experience. This strike is taking a toll on my family and me. I have not been able to earn even a single penny from the past 12 days and the house has been running on savings. I would urge the authorities to please step in and help drivers like me who really want to work and earn a respectable living."
Post-Ola-Uber strike, city's biggest taxi union of black and yellow cabs on November 4, 2018, threatened to go on protest from November 15 over fitness certificates row. After the state transport department promised to look into their demands, the kaali-peeli cab unions called off their proposed strike
The app-based cabs Ola and Uber went on a strike again on November 19, 2018, thanks to the Maharashtra Rajya Rashtriya Kamgar Sangh, a trade union led by the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which allegedly forced the cabbies to partake in the strike.
Avinash Shenoy, who works at a bank and regularly commutes in app-based cabs said, "This is purely bullying and such parties should introspect before calling such strikes. The drivers are dependent on their daily income and if politicians start playing games like this, the app-based cab drivers will end up like mill workers."
In the file photo, One can see a cab being vandalised as several cab drivers had suffered during the first round of the nearly fortnight-long strike which took place before Diwali.
On November 20, the trade union that claims to represent cab aggregators said on Monday that they were calling off the strike after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis intervened and assured the issue would be looked into post the assembly session.
Sachin Ahir was quoted saying, "The meeting was positive and Fadnavis assured that he would convene a meeting with the driver partners and union leaders post the winter session."
NCP leader Dhananjay Munde further added, "Devendra Fadnavis has constituted a committee under Transport secretary, to look into the demands of the drivers. The Chief Minister has assured that the committee will submit its report in the second week after the winter session of the state Legislature ends."
Ola and Uber drivers, with support from the NCP-led union, went on an indefinite strike on October 22 in two phases inconveniencing commuters in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai and other nearby areas. The strike was called off for the second time on November 20 after the intervention of Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who assured the union that he would convene a meeting with the driver partners and union leaders post the winter session. Here's a roundup of the Ola-Uber cab drivers strike that hit commuters in Mumbai and nearby areas.
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