Uber drivers are holding another nationwide strike in Australia today

  • Uber drivers say constant changes to the way they’re paid by the ridesharing app is making their job uneconomic.
  • They held a strike on August 6 over pay and conditions, but the company did not respond to their complaints.
  • A second strike is being held today, with more than 10,000 drivers switching off the app across Australia between 3pm and 5pm today.

Uber drivers across Australia’s capitals will log off this afternoon, August 22, as part of an ongoing fight with the US ridesharing app over pay.

It’s the second strike in a fortnight after around 15,000 drivers logged off the network for 2.5 hours on Monday morning, August 6.

Association Ride Share Drivers United (RSDU) called the second strike after the company failed to respond to its earlier demands, which include an end to upfront pricing, the ability to opt out of UberPool without penalty, a 15% increase in current UberX base rates and knowing the destination address when accepting the booking.

Drivers in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, and Hobart will switch off between 3pm and 5pm today.

RSDU says drivers should take bookings with other rideshare apps during the blackout period.

Spokesperson Max B said drivers were increasingly unhappy with the US giant, which is worth an estimated $72 billion, and the way it keeps changing the terms and conditions for its contracted drivers.

“Basically drivers are being shortchanged, almost every second ride,” he said.

His organisation is pushing for a return to distance and time charging, which Uber used previously and remains the cornerstone of the taxi industry.

“With fixed price the driver no longer knows how much they’ll get paid and unexpected delays can occur, such as getting stuck in traffic. When you calculate how much you should be paid based on the time, it might be, for example, $25, but Uber will pay you $16.

“But when you complain and say what about the rest of the money, Uber says ‘It is what it is, we calculated the sale based on historical delays’, so the driver is paying for the ride.”

Max B said drivers “are being sucked in” to joining Uber as contractors only to find they have no control and new contracts are issued without consultation, with major changes in terms”.

“I have no control over the price, I don’t know where I am going and I don’t know how much I’ll get paid, so how can I be an independent contractor,” he says.

The RSDU points to UberPool as an example of the changes introduced by the company without consultation, but having a dramatic impact on the economics of the job for drivers.

They want drivers to be paid the equivalent of UberX base rates plus at least 20% more for picking up multiple passengers over multiple stops. The claim the system also too often instructs drivers to stop in illegal pickup zones, putting everyone in danger.

Max B says drivers should be allowed to opt out of UberPool without penalty.

“When we signed up as UberX drivers, we didn’t sign up for UberPool and it’s costing us money,” he said.

He also wants politicians to place a greater focus on the welfare of drivers in the ridesharing industry in the wake of changes introduced to the sector to compensate taxi driver for the disruption.

“State parliaments were very very quick at introducing legislation around registration costs and other factors when Uber had an impact on the taxi system, but when it comes to driver working conditions, there’s nothing,” he said.

Max B says he expects more than 10,000 Uber drivers to take part in today’s action across Australia.

In a statement to Business Insider on the issue, Uber Australia said: “We want driver-partners to be successful when using the Uber app which is why we are investing in innovations to encourage more riders to choose the app, and proactively share information about when and where the best times to drive are.

“We have a range of channels for driver-partners to engage with Uber and provide feedback on their experience including regular roundtables and focus groups, partner support centres around Australia, plus phone and 24/7 in-app support.”