Ride-hailing drivers: Many studies deduce that platforms offer the promise of high rewards and flexible working hours, however, drivers paint an alternate picture of their experience, marred with inflexible and long working hours, no provision of off days, sick days and social benefits. Some were frustrated by the surveillance of the algorithm, unclear rating, driver safety concerns and the restriction on the type of vehicle on the platform. Their key concern as they work on the platform is to make enough earnings, as a result some mentioned that they engage underhand practices to cut out the platform to earn the full amount.
Ride-hailing platforms are welcome for people with few job opportunities in their countries, but not everyone can join.
You need to have a car that is not older than four years. Now, who can afford that car? No one of the previously marginalized people. No one can afford that car. It can only be afforded by the rich people. Of which undoubtedly they are white. (Geitung 2017, 33)
Without an asset, drivers have to rent with the hope of acquiring their own later on. However, this makes drivers feel as if they are “only working for that person [car owner],” so, at the end of the week, they have “just a few hundred left” (Geitung 2017, 34), considering that they have to factor in fueling and servicing the car. This leads to a strain on the drivers who complain that their conditions are restrictive and without considering the local context.
We are just working for fuel right now. […] The fuel is going up but the fare is not. And with the 20/25% they take, it’s not enough. We also need to clean the car, and insurance, which is very expensive. And they don’t even know (Geitung 2017, 36).
Drivers, if given a chance, would opt out. “If I was offered another job with a decent salary, I would park this car tomorrow, or even tonight” (Geitung 2017, 37).
These platforms promise rewards and work, but the picture is different. Drivers say to get the gains, they have to work long hours without relief even when sick (Geitung 2017, 32), under constant surveillance (Kute 2017, 51) with an unclear rating (Ahmed et al. 2016), inflexible hours, lack of trust, insecurity, unfair work terms (Geitung 2017, 33; 42) and no social protection (Chen 2018, 8).
To survive, drivers try to beat the system and form unions to have a collective voice.
Sometimes, I get requests and the drop-off is outside Metro Manila…. I ask the rider if he/she is willing to cancel the booking and I will give a discount. If the rider agrees, I save the commission the TNC is supposed to deduct. It’s a win-win (Limpin and Sison 2018, 7).
Ahmed, Syed Ishtiaque, Nicola J. Bidwell, Himanshu Zade, Srihari H. Muralidhar, Anupama Dhareshwar, Baneen Karachiwala, Cedrick N. Tandong, and Jacki O’Neill. 2016. “Peer-to-Peer in the Workplace: A View from the Road.” In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 5063–75. San Jose California USA: ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/2858036.2858393.
Chen, Julie Yujie. 2018. “Thrown under the Bus and Outrunning It! The Logic of Didi and Taxi Drivers’ Labour and Activism in the on-Demand Economy.” New Media & Society 20 (8): 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444817729149.
Geitung, Ine. 2017. “Uber Drivers in Cape Town: Working Conditions and Worker Agency in the Sharing Economy.” MA Thesis, University of Oslo. https://www.duo.uio.no/bitstream/handle/10852/60423/MA-Geitung.pdf?sequence=1.
Kute, Sebabe William. 2017. “The Sharing Economy in the Global South: Uber’s Precarious Labour Force in Johannesburg.” Johannesburg: University of the Witwatersrand. http://wiredspace.wits.ac.za/bitstream/handle/10539/24466/540932%20MA%20submission.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y.
Limpin, Laiza L., and Raymond C. Sison. 2018. “Drivers’ Tactics in Ridesharing Economy in the Philippines.” In . Sydney, Australia: University of Technology, Sydney. https://doi.org/10.5130/acis2018.at.