On Saturday 24th September 12PM (Melbourne time, noon), more than 4000 members of the RSDU in Australia, will be switching OFF their Uber app for one hour, and the app of any other rideshare operator(s) which continue to engage in the poor practice of hiding vital trip destination information from drivers. We are calling on all rideshare drivers in Australia to join us in our fight for better pay and working conditions, regardless of their group or industry affiliation. Today more than ever.
As COVID-19 restrictions ease in Australia and around the world, now is the time to review and reflect on current drivers conditions and pay in the rideshare industry.
Data released in July 2022 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed the price of almost anything climbing by 6.1% in the June quarter – the fastest annual pace since 2001 – driven primarily by the increasing cost of food and fuel. We are yet to see a considerable increase in prices in the coming months.
According to the RACV’s 2021 Vehicle Running Costs Survey the cost of running a vehicle in Victoria is about $0.50 to $1.60 per Km, depending on the vehicle model. With the running costs of most of the vehicles normally used by Uber drivers being at an average of $0.90 per Km. The RACV’s 2022 survey is yet to be released. However, judging by the recent soaring costs of living one can only assume it is going to reveal a much bleaker picture, with a possible two digits percentage increase in running costs for this year.
The current (summarised, per minute included) base rate of a rideshare trip in Victoria is $1.60 per Km on average, across all major operators. This is the gross base rate figure, it includes operator(s) commission (15% for Didi & Ola, and up to 27% for Uber) and GST. The net base rate figure (the net driver pay, after operator commission and GST) is approximately $1.30 per Km on average. This is before accounting for car expenses. In other words, a full time driver, working 40 hours per week, traveling approximately 1000 Km, will earn approximately $0.40 per km after all car expenses and GST, a $400 take home net profit per week only! $10 p/hour!
However, Uber, the leader of the pack, the most dominant player in the rideshare market relentlessly continues to try and attract new drivers by using false pretense and misleading advertisements, promising $38 per hour in earnings, which is a far cry from current reality. Many drivers we have talked to recently in Victoria are reporting earnings of $25-$30 per hour on average, on a good day, before fuel and vehicle expenses. Leaving them still, in the post Covid-19 year of 2022(!!) while the cost of living is soaring, with only $10-$15 net pay (profit) per hour.
We are happy to see some operators recently showing the trip destination and estimated trip earning before the driver accepts the trip, helping many drivers make informed decisions. That’s particularly important when the prices of petrol/diesel are close to all-time highs, not to mention the very high costs of vehicle maintenance. Unfortunately, Uber, the market leader, continues to abuse its market dominance insisting on not revealing the trip destination before the trip starts, forcing many drivers to often “blindly” accept and then cancel trips, not to mention occasionally putting driver’s safety at risk by coercing them to take a trip to unknown destinations which can end at an undesirable/unsafe area of town at the “wrong” time of the day.
Uber recently suspended many drivers for doing just that. Drivers who are struggling under current economic conditions, accepting a trip because there is simply no other way and then having to cancel after discovering that the trip is likely to cause a great financial loss to their already struggling business, to put simply, not worth it. There was nothing “fraudulent” (as Uber claimed/described it to the media) about underpaid drivers simply taking care of their own struggling businesses. After all, they are classified as private contractors and have every right NOT to take jobs that will net them great losses. If only Uber would have let the drivers know what the job is BEFORE coercing them to accept it, all of this would not be happening.
In June 2019 the FWO’s review of Uber and their relationship with drivers found that drivers are independent contractors. This begs the case, why are drivers still being left in the dark when it comes to the trip destinations? Can you imagine any other private contractor from a different industry in Australia, being asked to do a job for a set price he/she has no control over, the job is a secret until he/she start working on it, canceling may get the contractor banned or their rating and ability to accept new jobs negatively affected? Not to mention being coerced to accept base rates that are below poverty pay? Why does anyone in their right mind think that drivers are allowed to be abused in such manner?
Unions, and any other Drivers associations claiming to represent “all drivers”, please note!
- When trying to decide/negotiate drivers’ minimum hourly pay one must consider all of drivers’ licensing, vehicle running and maintenance costs. After taking these variables into consideration, for a driver to be able to earn casual loading pay comparable rates, rideshare drivers must earn a gross minimum of at least $48 p/hour or more.
- Drivers would like to see ALL rideshare operators disclose the trip destination (or at least the trip’s destination suburb) and estimated trip earnings when sending a booking through. The days of forcing drivers to work in the dark are OVER. The industry has matured, the practice of hiding the destination from drivers is dishonest, unsafe and no longer acceptable. It causes too many unnecessary cancellations and severely degrades the reliability of the service for thousands of commuters daily at peak times.
Negotiations with any of the rideshare operators in Australia must clearly include these two important demands.
Announcing a 1 hour strike, 24th September 2022 12pm. The first in a series.
On Saturday, 24th September 12PM (noon), members of the RSDU will be switching OFF their Uber app for one hour, and the app of any other rideshare operator(s) which continue to engage in the poor practice of hiding vital trip destination information from drivers. We are calling on all rideshare drivers in Australia to join us in our fight for better pay and working conditions, regardless of their group or industry affiliation. Today more than ever.
These are our demands
- Immediate 12% increase in base rates to bring drivers pay in line with current economic conditions and the very high cost of living.
- Uber (and any other rideshare operator in Australia) must disclose the trip destination whenever sending a booking through to drivers. Before the trip begins!
Head of Ride Share Drivers United