Attack on Hyd cabbie raises doubts about Uber's commitment to drivers' safety

TGPWU demanded Uber compensate Lateef for the costs of repairing his damaged vehicle and his hospital bills. They are also demanding Uber provide him income compensation of Rs. 1,200 for each day that his vehicle is out of commission and he is unable to earn his livelihood.

By Amrutha Kosuru  Published on  12 Sep 2022 1:56 PM GMT
Attack on Hyd cabbie raises doubts about Ubers commitment to drivers safety

Hyderabad: On 4 September, Uber driver Syed Lateef Uddin (37) was attacked by six men. The men followed Lateef, assaulted him, and also damaged his car.

On the day of the incident, Lateef called the police and Uber's emergency services. While the police arrived on the scene nearly an hour after his call, Uber did not respond to his calls. "Uber has not responded to my calls then or now," Lateef told NewsMeter.

Lateef was on duty for Uber when the incident occurred. "They did not call or try to contact me to provide support or inquire about my well-being," he said.

The six men have been reportedly arrested and remanded into custody since. However, it will cost Lateef nearly Rs. 1.5 lakhs to repair his car.

After the accident, Lateefuddin approached the Telangana Gig and Platform Workers' Union (TGPWU) to seek help. TGPWU has since reviewed various documents relating to the incident, including the details of the Uber booking on Lateef's Uber app (which corroborates the location and time), photographs and video footage showing the damages to the car, and copies of the police complaint and hospital bill.

Lateef was on his way from Shaikpet to Alkapur to pick up a passenger when 5-6 men on bikes started screaming at him and hitting the car doors.

"While the police have completed their duties efficiently, Uber has failed to adequately safeguard the driver in the first place nor has it provided any support during or in the aftermath of this unfortunate accident," said Shaik Salauddin, founder and state president of TGPWU.

He added, "This incident happened while Lateefuddin was on duty for Uber, driving to pick up a customer in an isolated and dark area for a trip that the Uber algorithm assigned him. Uber did not even answer Lateefuddin's repeated emergency calls while the incident was unfolding, leaving him stranded. This points to severe inadequacy of the emergency infrastructure Uber claims to have in place for drivers' safety," he said.

Shaikh said this incident is not the first. There have been numerous such accidents across Indian cities where Uber has failed to respond or provide drivers with support.

TGPWU demanded Uber compensate Lateef for the costs of repairing his damaged vehicle and his hospital bills. They are also demanding Uber provide him income compensation of Rs. 1,200 for each day that his vehicle is out of commission and he is unable to earn his livelihood.

Uber has also been asked to identify dangerous areas (in collaboration with drivers and unions) across Indian cities and assign timebound bookings for those areas (e.g., no bookings to dangerous areas after 9 p.m).

TGPWU has demanded Uber revamp its emergency infrastructure for drivers' safety and publicly announce its commitments to drivers regarding emergency response times and available support.

It has also demanded Uber establish mechanisms to protect drivers who belong to disadvantaged groups (e.g., women, religious minorities, sexual and gender minorities, etc.) from the dangers they commonly face while driving for Uber and publicly announce its commitments with regard to the same.

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