Uber Drivers Are Sleeping in Their Cars to Make Enough Money. Now, They're Going on Strike.

The strikes come ahead of Uber's initial public offering, which one union leader said promised to be an 'orgy of greed.'

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Uber Drivers Are Sleeping in Their Cars to Make Enough Money. Now, They're Going on Strike.
Image credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images via BI
Uber drivers protesting fare cuts in February 2018.
3 min read
This story originally appeared on Business Insider

Uber and Lyft drivers in a dozen cities were preparing to go on strike Wednesday, some of whom have been sleeping in their cars just to make ends meet, The Guardian reports.

The Guardian spoke with multiple drivers who it said regularly slept in their cars in parking lots around San Francisco to avoid commuting home.

“Drivers are the main source of profit for these companies,” one of the drivers, named Sultan Arifi, told The Guardian. “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.”

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 initial public offering -- 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.

Some of the drivers The Guardian spoke with, however, said Uber had 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 a driver named Mohammad Sadiq Safi, who The Guardian said had completed 130 rides in five days before speaking with the newspaper.

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 were set to go on strike 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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