Uber drivers across the world strike about pay, conditions, and the firm’s ‘orgy of greed’

Rideshare drivers for Uber and Lyft stage a strike and protest at the LAX International Airport, over what they say are unfair wages in Los Angeles, California on May 8, 2019. – MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images
  • Uber and Lyft drivers went on strike on Wednesday, logging out of the app for the day and voicing their anger about working conditions.
  • Protests are taking place in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, London, and Glasgow among other cities.
  • Business Insider was on the ground at the London protest and spoke to drivers who are demanding better pay to keep up with living costs.
  • They are also unhappy about how rich some of Uber’s investors will get from the upcoming IPO, which a union called an “orgy of greed.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Uber and Lyft drivers went on strike on Wednesday, campaigning for better pay and working conditions from the ride-hailing companies as they go public.

Strikes against Uber were more internationally widespread, as Lyft only operates in the US and Canada. Lyft’s stock price sank more than 7% on Wednesday amid the industrial action.

The strike comes ahead of Uber’s IPO, which promises to make investors such as founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick richer by potentially billions of dollars. The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, which is helping stage the strikes, called it an “orgy of greed.”

Read more:
Here’s who’s getting rich on Uber’s massive IPO

Demands from the international strikes included job security, higher pay, and a cap on the amount rideshare companies are allowed to take from riders’ fares. The strike started in Melbourne, Australia, and moved across the world on Wednesday – eventually reaching Uber’s headquarters in San Francisco.

An Uber spokesperson told Business Insider on Monday ahead of the strikes: “Drivers are at the heart of our service ─ we can’t succeed without them ─ and thousands of people come into work at Uber every day focused on how to make their experience better, on and off the road. Whether it’s more consistent earnings, stronger insurance protections or fully-funded four-year degrees for drivers or their families, we’ll continue working to improve the experience for and with drivers.”

Scroll on for pictures from the protests as they unfolded.

Drivers started demonstrating in London at 1 p.m. local time.

Drivers in the UK logged out of the Uber app between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. and gathered outside the company’s HQ in London to protest. Strikes also took place against Uber in Birmingham, Nottingham, and Glasgow.

The protesters brought drums, horns, and megaphones.

Chants included “shame on Uber” and “Uber, Uber, you can’t hide, we can see your greedy side.”

At one point a pink smoke flare was set off.


A nearby policeman took the flare and tried – with limited success – to put it out in a puddle.

“The cost is getting higher and the fare is getting lower.”

“We have to work harder and harder every time to earn the same amount of money,” Uber driver Muhumed Ali, 48, told Business Insider.

Ali has been driving with Uber for four years. When he started he said he would work six hours a day to cover his costs. “Now, I have to work at least four to five days [of] 12 to 14 hours,” he said.

He added that he does not make minimum wage, which in the UK is £8.21 ($US10.68).

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain set out its demands.


It told Business Insider in a statement that UK Uber drivers had four demands: for fares to be increased to £2 per mile from £1.80, for commissions paid by drivers to be reduced from 25% to 15%, an end to unfair dismissals, and for Uber to give its drivers legal “worker” status.

It added that UK Uber drivers on average earn £5 an hour.

In New York, a caravan of Uber and Lyft drivers arrived across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Protesting drivers gathered next to Wall Street’s famous Charging Bull statue.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Uber drivers and their supporters gathered outside of the company’s headquarters beginning around noon local time. We estimated about 150 protestors in attendance.


Some of the signs called out Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Protestors chanted slogans like “drivers united will never be defeated.” Cars honked in support as they went by, and there was even a band on the scene.


“One voice is not enough, we need thousands of voices of drivers,” said one protestor on the scene in San Francisco. Another said that they were there to push for better working conditions, and maybe benefits like healthcare or paid vacations: “We don’t have any of those things.”


Other tech workers swung by to express their support, as well.