He came all the way from Lille – and so Ben Ali Brahim receives a thunderous applause. “Uber is destroying our work,” the French taxi driver shouts through a megaphone – first in French, then in Arabic. “Uber is just like the Mafia!”
Around two hundred Uber drivers will demonstrate on Wednesday at the sidewalk of the European headquarters in Amsterdam. It is the third protest in two weeks. For the first time there are drivers from other European cities: London, Brussels and Lille. The atmosphere is sometimes grim. “Fuck Uber, fuck Uber!” the protesters roar, some with their middle fingers raised.
The drivers believe that they are being exploited by the taxi service: the rates are too low, the commission for Uber too high. Moreover, according to them, Uber allows too many drivers in the app, leaving too few journeys. “More taxis are added every day,” says initiator Stef Key. He wants Uber to introduce a driver stop and a minimum rate of 1.60 euros per kilometer.
Many drivers say that they work on working days from ten to twelve o’clock in order to provide for their living. “I currently earn 500 to 600 euros a week,” says Abdel Nasir, who is demonstrating for the first time. “There is then another 500 euros for fuel and 350 euros for insurance.”
Napkin Aktaz opens the app on his smartphone to show yesterday’s harvest: worked nine hours, earned 102.30 euros. “How do you make ends meet if you also have to pay fixed costs?” His verdict on Uber: “Modern slavery.”
Also read: Uber drivers demand “more human policy”
After half an hour the street in front of the Uber office is full of taxis. Every new wave of activists who come running loud and horny, is welcomed with cheers. Police officers can barely prevent the taxis from blocking the main road.
The entrance to the Uber building is closed as a precaution, but a delegation led by Key may enter through a side door to talk to the Uber management. In the meantime, it is kept outside of the atmosphere. “Do you want more or less commission?” it sounds through the megaphone.
Key is outside again after half an hour. “It was the familiar song,” he tells the demonstrators. “Uber sympathizes with us, but they don’t make any concrete commitments.” And so the Uber drivers will be demonstrating again in two weeks. This time in The Hague.
A Uber spokesperson said the company “takes the signals seriously” and “goes into additional discussions with 50 drivers to look at their earnings with them.”
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February 27, 2020