India’s pioneering Driver Advisory Council (DAC) is making strides in improving the lives of tens of thousands of gig workers on the Uber platform as it expands its reach to nine major cities across the country.
This flagship initiative, led by the Aapti Institute in collaboration with Uber, serves as an Independent Review Board (IRB), providing a crucial platform for gig workers to voice their concerns and enhance their overall experience.
The DAC now includes representation from three additional cities: Jaipur, Guwahati, and Kochi, in addition to the existing Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai. The council boasts 45 dedicated members who actively engage in discussions and advocate for the interests of driver partners across various modes of transportation, including cars, auto-rickshaws, and motorbikes.
At a recent event held in Central Delhi, DAC members had the opportunity to interact with Uber's global executive, Andrew Byrne, Vice President and Global Head of Public Policy at Uber. They shared valuable insights about their experiences, marking a significant milestone in fostering a two-way dialogue between drivers and the platform.
Dr. Sarayu Natarajan, Founder of Aapti Institute, facilitated a discussion titled 'Shaping Platform-Worker Dialogue in the Gig Economy.' The panel included esteemed experts like Dr. Dhanya MB from V.V. Giri National Labour Institute, Marico Ouchi from the International Labour Organization, Mike Orgill from Uber for the APAC region, and Aishwarya Raman from the OMI Foundation.
Uber has demonstrated its commitment to addressing the concerns raised by DAC members by implementing several key changes over the past year.
Addressing Working Capital Issues
To provide drivers with greater financial flexibility, Uber introduced the 'Daily Pay' feature, allowing drivers to access their online earnings the following morning. Based on DAC feedback, Uber has advanced the payment disbursement time to the morning, enabling drivers to use their earnings for immediate needs like refueling. Additionally, Uber offers cash-free parking facilities at nine major airports across India for a smoother experience.
More Transparency for Driver Partners
Uber has enhanced transparency by displaying the estimated fare drivers will earn before accepting a trip. After completing a trip, the electronic receipt will provide a clear breakdown of earnings, Uber's commission, and other deductions such as government taxes and airport parking fees.
More Choice to Choose Trips
Uber is piloting the 'Extra Choice' feature, providing driver partners with a broader selection of available trip offers in their area. This addresses DAC members' feedback for more options, increases trip acceptance rates, and reduces wait times for riders.
Shiva Shailendran, Director of Operations at Uber India and South Asia, emphasized their commitment to providing an open, accessible, and rewarding platform for driver partners, continuously improving their experience with Uber.
Dr. Sarayu Natarajan, Founder of Aapti Institute, lauded DAC as a groundbreaking initiative in promoting participatory governance in the gig economy. She expressed hope that this model could serve as a blueprint for the larger gig economy, influencing regulations and policies for platforms like Uber.
The DAC comprises active driver partners on the Uber platform who nominate themselves based on specific eligibility criteria. These drivers represent their community for a year, after which the selection process is repeated.
Since its inception in March 2022, the DAC has conducted in-person and online sessions, addressing crucial topics such as earnings, product enhancements, social security, app experience, and safety. The Indian DAC mirrors similar successful models in the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand, demonstrating Uber's commitment to supporting the rights of gig workers.
As India's gig economy continues to evolve, the Driver Advisory Council stands as a beacon of positive change, ensuring the voices of gig workers are heard and their experiences improved.