Uber drivers take action at the head office in Amsterdam.Photo: ANP/Robin van Lonkhuijsen

About a hundred taxi drivers protested in front of Uber’s headquarters in Amsterdam on Tuesday. They think they are underpaid and treated badly by the originally American taxi platform. “I can’t even go grocery shopping normally anymore.”

“Scammers, swindlers, swindlers”, heard the unsuspecting passer-by that Tuesday around 12 .35 happened to pass the Mr.Treublaan in Amsterdam. The slogans were chanted by a number of taxi drivers, who have gathered in front of Uber’s headquarters to protest against the taxi platform. They believe that they are underpaid and treated badly.

“We are here because we demand certain improvements and a healthy taxi market,” says one of the demonstrators. “The price has to go up. There just needs to be a minimum rate, because everything will only get more expensive. I can’t even shop normally anymore. Isn’t that outrageous?”

According to the drivers, this is partly due to the commissions that the drivers have to pay to Uber. “I have reviewed my annual figures of 2022 and have more than 15. euros paid in commissions. Taxes and other fixed costs, such as fuel and maintenance costs, are added on top of that. What am I left with then?”

Do my own thing “Uber determines which rides are distributed among the riders,” says another demonstrator. “They do this in the wrong way, as a result of which the drivers are not offered enough. If you need to ride certain rides, but somehow you can’t make them, Uber won’t do anything for you. In other words: people have to fend for themselves, while they are constantly faced with high costs such as lease and fuel costs.”

However, according to this demonstrator, the commissions that Uber uses are not the only problem. “Initially, drivers received a higher starting rate, but that has become less and less over time,” he says. “The same applies to the kilometer price. There is always cutbacks, while the intention is that there is a margin between the driving and the earnings for the drivers. That relationship is completely gone. More goes to Uber now than to the drivers. And that while they ultimately do the work. Drivers sometimes have to drive fourteen to fifteen hours to get a normal wage that they and their families can live on.”

Rising emotions The fact that emotions are high is evident from what the Uber headquarters looks like this Tuesday. Demonstrators have covered almost all windows with stickers. They also hung large banners with texts such as: “Uber = corruption“. There is also a somewhat tense atmosphere among the demonstrators themselves. Some get into heated arguments with each other.

Discussions that the drivers would rather have had with Uber themselves. Because, according to the demonstrators, that is also one of the major annoyances: Uber hardly communicates with its own drivers, if at all, according to one of the protesters. “When drivers want to contact headquarters, Uber just doesn’t give a damn. And that while they do work for Uber, in fact. That’s just the problem.”

The demonstration in front of Uber’s headquarters was initiated by FNV. The union also believes that Uber drivers are underpaid. In addition, FNV blames the taxi platform for not treating drivers as self-employed entrepreneurs, but also not wanting to employ them to pay a collective labor agreement wage. “The measure is really full”, said Amrit Sewgobind, director FNV Platformwerk about that last week. “The drivers are underpaid, Uber does not comply with judges’ rulings and drivers are blocked all the time.”

“Campaign full of falsehoods” However, Uber strongly disagrees with the union. According to the taxi platform, the drivers already earn more than under a collective agreement. “They have improved on average 35 percent in the past year,” one responds spokesman for the taxi platform opposite the ANP news agency. “It is important that drivers are listened to. While we are talking to them, FNV is busy with a campaign full of untruths, completely ignoring the fact that 94 percent of drivers do not want to be employed.”

Despite protesters’ dissatisfaction, most drivers continue to drive rides for Uber. “They control the market,” one of them responds. “I have to earn money to pay my rent. As long as Uber exists, consumers will continue to use it. We therefore continue to demonstrate and strike. What the farmers can do, we can do too.”

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