Uber is apparently going through a bumpy ride as the company is in news for all wrong reasons like sexual harassment case and allegations of stealing self-driving car technology from Google, a viral video that showed Uber CEO Travis Kalanick arguing with a driver (when Uber drivers in India were on strikes) and the recent protest regarding low fares disrupted daily Uber commuters in Bengaluru and Delhi.
It all started in 2009 when the company launched its services, the company had to fight regulatory and legal battles all over the world. By 2015 they had been embroiled in at least 70 different legal challenges and recently Uber drivers were protesting agaist unfair pricing and "inhuman" working conditions.
Over 400 drivers gathered at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi to demand increase in the fare from the current Rs. 6 per km. They also demanded relaxation in work hours and accident insurance.
And to clear this issue President of Uber India, Amit Jain tried to address some of the driver concerns through a blog on Friday.
Jain tried to explain and answer a few questions regarding the protests in a blog post he also apologised for the disruption over the past few weeks. He mentions that only small number of individuals were involved in the strike, which prevented other drivers from working as well. He also referred to uberSAMAAJ, a driver-focused discussion group, and said that he and his team look to resolve driver queries and issues.
He discussed about the working hours and salaries of drivers, saying, "Currently, 80 percent of drivers across India who are online for more than six hours a day make between Rs. 1,500 and Rs. 2,500 net, after Uber's service fee."
"The future of our business depends on making driving with Uber the most attractive choice. And as our business has grown over three years in India, we are seeing sustainable earning opportunities for driver partners and sustained interest in driving with Uber, with a 60 percent year-on-year increase in driver sign ups in January 2017," he added.
Jain also talks about incentives. He says that drivers earn money from fares paid by riders, but also from incentives (for instance a driver may earn a certain amount of money once they've hit a certain number of trips). These incentives vary widely by individual drivers. We are constantly seeking to understand, assess and improve both earnings from fares and our incentives structure.
The blog added that affordable prices for riders that allow the service to grow need to be considered at the same time drivers need to know that when they switch on the app, there will always be people looking for a ride. "Striking a balance isn't always easy, but without attractive earnings for drivers the service simply wouldn't work."
It added that Uber is watching carefully to ensure drivers do not get into difficulty with vehicle financing, especially after the recent violence and intimidation which prevented many from using the app.
Drivers' associations in Delhi and Bengaluru, were demanding to increase fares to Rs 12-15 per kilometre and provide benefits such as insurance for all drivers on the platform. In the past one month, Uber has increased prices 10 percent across cities, rolling back in the process some of the incentives it offered the drivers.