Bangladesh’s ride-hailing drivers demand fee cut, call strike

Motorcyclists demonstrating blocking Shaheed Captain M Mansur Ali Road in Dhaka on Wednesday, Apr 7, 2021. They were demanding lifting of a ban on ridesharing services amid a lockdown over coronavirus.
Drivers of ride-hailing services in Bangladesh have called a strike for Tuesday, demanding that technology companies reduce fees to 10 percent from 25 percent on all fares now.

Other demands by a union of drivers are the protection of rights as workers, an end to alleged harassment by traffic police, spaces for parking, advance tax waiver for ride-hailing vehicles and refund of the taxes collected last year.  

Belal Ahmed, a leader of the App-based Drivers Union of Bangladesh, said many of them prefer taking passengers without registering the rides on the apps to save the 25 percent commission charged by the companies. But it is risky for both the drivers and the passengers.

“And we must be recognised as workers because we offer services to the people,” said Belal.     

Uber Technologies recently said it would start rolling out its pension plan to all eligible drivers in the United Kingdom, months after the ride-hailing service granted workers' rights to its drivers in the country.

In March, Uber had reclassified its more than 70,000 drivers in Britain as workers following a Supreme Court ruling. Uber had also said it would offer guaranteed entitlements, including holiday pay, a pension plan and limited minimum wage.

Belal said they do not have spaces designated for parking, but traffic police file cases against them whenever they stop in Dhaka.

“You know that one of us burnt his motorcycle today (Monday) after a case over parking was filed against him. We have been demanding an end to harassment by police for a long time.”

“Police file cases against app-based vehicles for trivial reasons. These types of harassment must stop.”

A video of a man burning his own motorcycle in Dhaka on Monday went viral on social media and is being publicised as an incident of protest to counter “harassment” by traffic police.