We are used to protests by taxi drivers against the rideshare service Uber, but in the latest twist, the people who drive for Uber have held a global day of protest, complaining they are being treated unfairly.
They work for the company as independent contractors, using its smartphone app which connects them with passengers looking for a ride.
But they say Uber has changed the rules, cutting fares in July, and they cannot make a decent living.
At a demo in Santa Monica, California, driver Matt Doherty said: “Uber has increased the amount of drivers on the road, they decreased the rate that we get paid, and they’ve increased their commission, to the point where now, they’ve squeezed us down to the point, by greed, that we’re barely over the federal minimum of 54 cents a mile (42 euro cents per 1.6 kilometres).”
Their second complaint was about Uber’s system whereby passengers rate drivers after their ride.
Low scores mean a driver can be deactivated and kicked off the company’s rolls.
Driver Lotfi Benyedder said: “They just deactivate you with one click without even having the time to appeal or to sit down to see the exact reason for the deactivation.”
Uber responded that their app and business model have created small business opportunities that didn’t previously exist.
In a written statement the company, speaking about the situation in the US, said: “Four years ago, drivers simply didn’t have the economic opportunity they have today. Uber powers entrepreneurship and provides the tools for drivers to build their own small business – that is a fundamental and significant change from the status quo, where drivers start the day at least $100 in the hole just to rent their taxi.”
In the US there were protests in cities including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC and Chicago.
In New York City and London many drivers reportedly went on strike, turning off the Uber app on their phones.