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morawczynski2_Drew AngererGetty Images_uber Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Your Driver Is Waiting – for a Raise

In recent years, protests against ride-hailing platforms like Uber have proliferated around the world. Ultimately, however, there is only one way to ensure that such platforms deliver for both riders and drivers: better government regulation.

TORONTO – Last May, just before Uber’s $82.4 billion initial public offering, the company’s drivers, together with those for its fellow ride-hailing platform Lyft (many drive for both), participated in an international day of industrial action, holding demonstrations in 24 cities – from London to Melbourne to New York City – to demand higher pay and better working conditions. But grievances with ride-hailing companies that charge riders low fares and extract hefty commissions from drivers are not limited to rich economies.

In July, driver associations in Nairobi, Kenya, urged stoppages by those working for digital-based ride-hailing services – including Uber, the Estonian company Bolt (formerly Taxify), and the locally owned Little Cab – over precisely such complaints. Although key players agreed to a set of payment principles last year, little changed in practice.

The rise of platform labor – digitally mediated service work – creates a policy conundrum. On one hand, it benefits consumers by providing low-cost on-demand services, and can benefit workers by giving them access to those consumers. In Kenya, at least 6,000 people work as drivers for ride-hailing platforms.

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