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Vietnam GrabBike drivers stage ‘strike’ as firm hikes revenue share

Tuesday, August 15, 2017, 14:28 GMT+7
Vietnam GrabBike drivers stage ‘strike’ as firm hikes revenue share
GrabBike drivers listen to the policy change at a meeting in Hanoi in this photo posted on Facebook.

Not long after Grab announced that it would increase its own share of revenue between the company and its ‘partners,’ multiple GrabBike drivers in Vietnam have staged a strike and called for a boycott of the ride-sharing app.

GrabBike is the motorbike taxi (xe om) service of Grab Vietnam, allowing users to hail a motorcycle for private travel, instead of cars in the Uber-like GrabCar.

Grab Vietnam has lured a huge number of locals to join its driver network, where they are called ‘partners,’ by initially offering a revenue share of 15 percent.

Local tech-based xe om drivers said the 15 percent deduction, plus fuel and motorbike maintenance costs, still ensures a decent income for them.

However, Grab announced last week that the ‘commission rate’ would be adjusted to 20 percent from September 5, meaning a fifth of the money earned from each ride will go to the company behind the app.

The announcement has proven to be the last straw for many Vietnamese GrabBike drivers, following multiple recent policy adjustments that put the drivers at a financial disadvantage.

On Sunday night, disgruntled drivers began calling on each other to go on strike by turning off the app.

Other drivers chose to hail a GrabBike ride of their own only to cancel the booking later. This floods the app network with ride requests, making it harder for people with genuine travel demands to find a driver.

Some on-strike drivers went even further by trying to affect the business of their colleagues who did not join the protest.

According to Dan Tri (Intellectual) news website, drivers would book new GrabBike rides with random itineraries, but fail to show up or cancel the booking.

“The driver who received the ‘sabotage booking’ would then be unable to get other customers and would have to cancel the booking on their own,” one driver explained to Dan Tri.

“If a driver makes too many ride cancelations, he will receive fewer bonuses from the Grab support program and may even have his account locked for good.”

A GrabBike and his customer are seen in Ho Chi Minh City.
A GrabBike and his customer are seen in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Another GrabBike driver told Dan Tri that the company had earlier stopped paying bonuses for drivers who pick up passengers during rush hour from August 7.

Struggling on streets packed with vehicles of all kinds during this busy time, without receiving any financial support, is the last thing GrabBike drivers may want to do.

“I have since turned off my app during rush hour as those rides bring nothing but losses,” he said.

The driver added that the tech-based xe oms used to actually only earn 75 percent of each ride fare in reality, with 15 percent going to Grab and around 10 percent covering petrol costs.

“The 20 percent commission means we will only receive a third of the fare earned from each ride, not to mention expenses like a 3G data plan and bike repairs,” he said.

According to data gathered by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, GrabBike drivers would normally make VND150,000 to VND300,000 (US$6-$13) per day during the early days of the service.

However, with the number of drivers constantly increasing, each driver receives fewer rides and their daily incomes have accordingly dropped to around VND100,000 ($4.5).

“It is totally absurd for Grab to ask for a bigger commission when our total incomes are falling,” one driver told Tuoi Tre.

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