Uber drivers around the world go on strike to protest ‘poverty wages’ as the company prepares to go pubic at a valuation of $91billion

  • Uber and Lyft drivers went on rolling strikes calling for higher wages in cities worldwide on Wednesday
  • They say their wages are declining even as the company rakes in billions
  • Uber plans to seek a valuation of $91billion in an initial public offering of stock on Friday
  • Drivers called for a two-hour strike during morning rush from 7am to 9am in New York City
  • Led a caravan of cars with no passengers across the Brooklyn Bridge in protest 
  • Drivers picket outside the Los Angeles International during 24-hour strike at the airport
  • Other strikes have been called in Chicago, San Francisco, DC and London

Uber drivers around the world are participating in a day of strikes to protest their compensation and treatment as the company prepares an initial public stock offering at a $91billion valuation. 

Joined by Lyft workers, Uber drivers held a two-hour strike from 7am to 9am in New York City on Wednesday, and rolling strikes in Los Angles, San Francisco, Washington DC and London.

Uber plans to raise $9billion when it goes public on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, for a total valuation exceeding $91billion.

In New York on Wednesday, a caravan of Uber drivers rolled passenger-less over the Brooklyn Bridge at dawn, bearing signs accusing the company of greed. 

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    Uber and Lyft drivers, with signs on their vehicles supporting better wages, cross the Brooklyn Bridge in a caravan of about 25 vehicles on Wednesday in New York. The protests arrive just ahead of Uber’s initial public stock offering on Friday

    Members of the Independent Drivers Guild drive across the Brooklyn Bridge as part of a protest against Uber on Wednesday

    The protests in more than a dozen cities come ahead of Uber’s anticipated Initial Public Offering on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) which could put the ride-hailing firm’s calculation as high as $91.5 billion

    Uber drivers cross the Brooklyn Bridge in a caravan on Wednesday to protest their compensation

    Uber drivers protest next to the Charging Bull statue in New York’s financial district on Wednesday

    Drivers take part in a protest against Uber and other app-based ride-hailing companies in New York near Wall Street

    From there, groups of drivers gathered outside near the Charging Bull statue near Wall Street, and held noisy protests outside of Uber’s offices in Manhattan.

    On the West Coast, drivers called for a 24-hour strike at Los Angeles International, urging other drivers to boycott the airport from midnight to midnight and form a picket line there on Wednesday.

    Labor actions also took place in Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia, San Diego, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Australia and Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

    In the UK, the Independent Workers Union said some Uber drivers are observing a nine-hour boycott. The union demands, among other things, increased fares per mile and a decrease in commissions paid to Uber. 

    It’s not the first time drivers for ride-hailing apps have staged protests. Strikes were planned in several cities ahead of Lyft’s IPO last month, although the disruption to riders appeared to be minimal. More cities are participating in Wednesday’s protest.

    Uber and Lyft drivers protest during a day-long strike outside Uber’s office in Saugus, Massachusetts on Wednesday

    The drivers in Massachusetts joined workers around the world to protest what they say is unfair compensation 

    Striking Uber and Lyft drivers walk a picket line as they join a world wide strike of the the ride hailing companies outside Uber offices in Saugus, Massachusetts. Drivers are striking in an effort to get better wages and medical benefits

    Connecticut Uber and Lyft drivers hold a protest at Uber Driver Resource Center in Stamford, Connecticut as they take part in a nationwide strike to protest Uber’s treatment of mobile app drivers

    ‘I’m striking because Uber has broken their promises to drivers time and again,’ said Syed Ali, an Uber driver and member of the striking New York Taxi Workers Alliance, in a statement. 

    ‘They have grown and grown and gotten richer and richer, but I haven’t grown with the company. My condition as an Uber driver has gotten worse and worse,’ Ali said. 

    ‘Drivers built these billion dollar companies and it is just plain wrong that so many continue to be paid poverty wages while Silicon Valley investors get rich off their labor,’ said Brendan Sexton, executive director of the Independent Drivers Guild. ‘All drivers deserve fair pay.’ 

    Senator Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, voiced his support for the striking drivers in a tweet. 

    ‘Uber is not a poor company. It paid its top five executives $143 million in compensation last year, including $45 million to its CEO. So why are Uber drivers struggling to put food on the table?’ wrote Sanders. ‘I stand with striking Uber and Lyft drivers today. The greed has got to end.’

    Private hire drivers stage a protest outside of the offices of Uber in London on Wednesday

    Uber drivers protest outside the Uber offices in London, England on Wednesday. The protests come ahead of Uber’s anticipated Initial Public Offering on the New York Stock Exchange which could but the ride-hailing firm’s valuation at $91M

    Drivers in London joined the worldwide day of strikes and protests on Wednesday to protest driver pay and benefits

    In the UK, the Independent Workers Union said some Uber drivers are observing a nine-hour boycott. The union demands, among other things, increased fares per mile and a decrease in commissions paid to Uber

    Uber, in a prepared statement, said it is constantly working to improve the working environment for drivers.

    ‘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.’

    Lyft said its drivers’ hourly earnings have increased over the last two years, that 75% of its drivers work less than 10 hours per week to supplement existing jobs and that on average the company’s drivers earn over $20 an hour before subtracting expenses such as gas and vehicle maintenance.

    ‘We know that access to flexible, extra income makes a big difference for millions of people, and we’re constantly working to improve how we can best serve our driver community,’ Lyft said.

    Uber has 3 million drivers globally, and it is not clear if the strikes would significantly slow service, although organizers have received widespread publicity.

    Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi, hired to help move the company past a series of scandals and manage the IPO, has promised to treat drivers better. 

    Uber is paying more than a million drivers about $300 million in one-time bonuses, for instance, and has changed policies such as allowing riders to tip.

    In Sao Paulo, Brazil, drivers of the ride share service Uber protest against the reduction of incentives of the company, the lack of security during work, and ask for an increase in the value of the service

    An Uber driver places adhesive tape on his car during a strike against the company in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Wednesday

    The words ‘Uber, Global Strike’ are seen on a car during a protest against the company in Sao Paulo, Brazil

    ‘Whether it’s being able to track your earnings or stronger insurance protections, we’ll continue working to improve the experience for and with drivers,’ the company said.

    Uber and Lyft have cut back on incentives and bonuses in more established markets to attract new drivers. They have also devised more complicated formulas for determining what riders pay and what drivers earn.

    Both companies recently slashed the per-mile rate drivers earn in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and some drivers estimated a loss of 10 percent to 20 percent in earnings. Lyft said its hourly wages have risen over the last two years and average over $20 per hour.

    The company and its critics are divided over how much drivers can make. Classified as independent contractors, they lack paid sick and vacation days and must pay their own expenses, such as car maintenance and gasoline.

    Uber noted that a recent study whose authors included current and former Uber employees showed driver gross earnings averaged $21 an hour. But a study by left-leaning Washington think tank Economic Policy Institute calculated that after costs, Uber drivers earned $9.21 an hour. 

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