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Some Uber and Taxi Drivers Struggle in New York City, Worldwide

The Independent Drivers Guild, an advocacy group for Uber drivers and taxi drivers, has engaged in combative dialogue with Uber over the wellbeing of its drivers.

The Guild claims that many New York City Uber drivers struggle as the cost of living continues to rise. That’s why the Guild — which does not identify as a union establishment — has been pushing for higher wages for drivers and a cap on the number of new Uber drivers.

Unfortunately, this reach doesn’t extend to South Africa. Uber drivers there are facing a similar plight regarding static wages and the increased price of gas. In response, Uber drivers in Johannesburg have staged a protest.

According to Business Live, Uber and Taxify drivers protested in front of the Johannesburg Zoo on Monday, June 16. They planned to give Uber a memorandum detailing their demands for the company.

Uber became a popular mode of transport among commuters and bar-hoppers alike in recent years. In New York, a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can land you in jail: if you have a BAC of .08% or higher, you can be charged with a DWI. To avoid drunk driving, taxi services and ride-share services like Uber have become increasingly common.

However, a recent string of suicides among drivers has brought new attention to the quality of life of ride-share and taxi operators alike. According to a recent report in The New York Times, six drivers have killed themselves since December, and now Guild is calling for change. In South Africa, drivers are also asking for improvements.

“We are tired of working hard and earning less,” claims South African Uber driver, Nkosinathi Nguni. “Right now the petrol price went up and Uber doesn’t increase trip prices. They don’t even care about the safety of drivers, safety is not taken seriously.”

There are claims that Uber takes as much as 25% from each driver’s transaction in South Africa. In the United States, drivers struggle as more than 20% of their transactions are taken.

The Independent Drivers Guild in the U.S. is calling for increased wages due to the increased cost of living. They are also demanding a minimum pay rate for drivers, a limit on the commission Uber takes, and a freeze on hiring new Uber drivers.

The Guild believes that a sharp rise in the number of Uber drivers has created an unfair level of competition.

“The pay, from what we can see, has been declining, in part because of the competition among apps to offer the lowest passenger price,” claims Meera Joshi, New York City’s taxi commissioner.

It has yet to be determined how Uber will respond to either of these calls to action from drivers and guilds.

The Guild director, Ryan Price, claims the company needs to do more.

“Uber’s C.E.O. needs to address the widespread hardship faced by drivers for his own company before considering taking another cut from our sub-minimum wage pay,” Price noted.