Uber drivers are sleeping in their cars to make enough money. Now, they're going on strike.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
- Thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers are going on strike on Wednesday protesting falling wages.
- The Guardian spoke to drivers joining the protest who have resorted to sleeping in their cars to make enough money to live.
- Screenshots from their phones showed that for some rides, Uber had taken a 70% cut of the fare.
- The strikes come ahead of Uber's IPO, which unions said promises to be an "orgy of greed," cashing in on "one of the most abusive business models ever to emerge from Silicon Valley."
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The Guardian spoke to multiple drivers who regularly sleep in their cars in parking lots around San Francisco to avoid commuting home.
"Drivers are the main source of profit for these companies. They are not losing money, we are losing money. We are losing time - working into late nights, sleeping in places like this, because you have to, you have to do it to make money," one of the drivers, named Sultan Arifi, told The Guardian.
At the heart of Wednesday's strike is a demand for better pay, specifically in relation to how big a cut Uber and Lyft take from each fare. In Uber's financial filings ahead of its upcoming IPO - which promises to make billions for investors - it revealed that its average take rate increased to 21.7% in 2018 from 20.5% in 2017.
However, some of the drivers The Guardian spoke to said Uber has taken much heftier chunks of their fares. Screenshots showed that in some instances drivers had received as little as 30% of a ride fare.
"Every week I have to make more trips to cover my costs," said driver Mohammad Sadiq Safi, who completed 130 rides in five days prior to speaking to The Guardian.
Uber was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Business Insider, but a spokesman said in a statement to The Guardian that the company would continue to work with drivers to improve their working conditions.
Drivers in cities including New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, London, and Glasgow will go on strike on Wednesday, turning their engines off for up to 24 hours in some locations. Demonstrations will be held outside Uber's London headquarters at 1 p.m.
"Uber's flotation is shaping up to be an unprecedented international orgy of greed as investors cash in on one of the most abusive business models ever to emerge from Silicon Valley," said James Farrar, a branch chair at the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain. "It is the drivers who have created this extraordinary wealth but they continue to be denied even the most basic workplace rights."
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