Ride-hailing Drivers Want Commission Rate Cut, Discontent of Gig Economy, and the Relationship Between Ride-hailing Companies and Drivers

Nov 16, 2021

The Dhaka Ride Sharing Drivers Union, an organization of ride-hailing drivers, has raised a six-point demand including reducing commissions to 10% from 25%, not punishing a rider account without verifying an allegation, parking facilities in Dhaka and Sylhet for enlisted vehicles, and government exemption of advance income tax (AIT), etc. The Union said drivers will go on a continuous strike if their demands are not met by 28 November. 

The accusations against the ride-hailing platforms are long. Drivers allege that companies take away their hard-earned money in the name of passenger booking fees, insurance, etc. That ride-sharing companies deprive drivers of their just payments with pre-determined bills. And when companies raise fares, which is often the case during peak hours, rainy days, and natural disasters, drivers are the ones who need to negotiate with customers and deal with conflicts. 

On the other hand, ride-hailing companies maintain that they offer fair pay to driver-partners and that it is expensive to run a platform and ensure smooth service for both customers and driver-partners, which requires significant investment. Without the commission structure and current business model, it will be difficult to maintain the business. 

Ride-hailing drivers work as zero-hour contractors. Many ride-hailing companies call their drivers self-employed entrepreneurs. The classification does not allow drivers' labor rights and regular employee benefits. 

According to Dhaka Ride Sharing Drivers Union, almost four lakh people are involved with ride-hailing directly or indirectly. The union demands that the government recognize ride-hailing drivers as transport workers. A demand, if met, will change the dynamics of the ride-hailing industry in Bangladesh. 

It is important that ride-hailing companies and relevant stakeholders look into this challenge with due importance. Because unless there is a sustainable solution to the discontent of drivers, it will continue to negatively affect all stakeholders involved. Ride-hailing companies will lose business. Users will suffer. For regulators, it will create unnecessary chaos. Overall, the sector will not flourish. 

The discontent of the gig economy 

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Ruhul Kader is a technology and business analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Future Startup and author of Rethinking Failure: A short guide to living an entrepreneurial life. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, technology policy, and society. He can be reached at ruhul@futurestartup.com

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