In a recent demonstration of collective frustration, e-hailing drivers in South Africa descended on the streets of Sandton, marching towards the Uber headquarters in Kramerville. Their objective: to deliver a memorandum outlining their demands for improved working conditions.
The protest on September 20 required a noticeable law enforcement presence to ensure safety and maintain order. The procession caused temporary traffic disruptions, prompting commuters and drivers to seek alternative routes during the protest.
Hendry Mathebula, Chairman of the E-hailing Partners Council (EPCO), led the demonstration and did not mince his critique of Uber. He lamented what he characterised as exploitative practices and a lack of attention to drivers’ rights. The memorandum highlighted two central concerns. Firstly, it raised the alarm about Uber’s alleged interference with drivers’ autonomy to choose passengers, potentially leading to the acceptance of hazardous rides. Secondly, Mathebula accused Uber of exploiting drivers and disregarding their well-being.
Mathebula expressed deep disappointment with Uber’s handling of these issues, asserting that the company prioritised its interests at the expense of its drivers and partners. He also voiced serious reservations about Uber’s partnership with the Gauteng government, which many drivers believed favoured the company and left them disadvantaged.
The memorandum delivered to Uber urged the company to align with industry standards designed to address the drivers’ grievances. EPCO believes that embracing these benchmarks would foster transparency, mutual accountability, and the development of a more equitable partnership. Ultimately, such changes would provide safer, more affordable, and more lucrative e-hailing services for all stakeholders.
This protest underscores the ongoing challenges faced by e-hailing drivers in South Africa. Resolving these issues is essential for safeguarding the well-being of drivers and ensuring the sustainability of e-hailing services in the country.
Picture: Facebook / Satawu- South African Transport & Allied Workers ‘ Union
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