Growing workforce exacerbates challenges for moto-taxi drivers.

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    Oct 29, 2023

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Ho Chi Minh City's ride-hailing job market faces intense competition as laid-off factory workers join, worsening the already challenging conditions.


Pham Mi Sen, a Grab motorbike driver and vice chairman of the motorbike taxi ride-hailing app drivers union in HCMC's Binh Tan District, highlighted that a significant influx of individuals who have been laid off from factories has resulted in a surge of applicants for ride-hailing positions. This overwhelming response has compelled ride-hailing companies to postpone the hiring process for new drivers due to the sheer volume of candidates.

During a conference on digital work platforms organized by Fairwork Vietnam on Thursday, Sen highlighted the issue of numerous individuals who were recruited two months ago but are still awaiting account activation to start receiving ride bookings.

According to Sen, with the addition of a new driver, it implies that the existing drivers will experience a decrease in their customer base and consequently face tougher competition in securing rides.

According to his calculations, in order for a driver to increase their income by a mere 8%, they would need to work an additional 50% more than their current workload. Due to the necessity of making ends meet, numerous individuals resort to driving continuously day and night, even consuming quick meals while on their bikes, as their means of earning a sufficient livelihood.

Sen stated that the job has become more challenging as companies have implemented stricter regulations regarding locking drivers' accounts, despite there being an excess of available manpower.

According to him, drivers who receive two customer complaints on the app will face suspension. If a driver accumulates a third complaint, they will be permanently terminated from their position.

According to a recent survey conducted by Vietnam Labor Confederation, the Center for Health Consultation and Community Development, and Oxfam, it was revealed that an average monthly income of VND7 million (US$284.84) is earned by motorbike drivers working for Grab.

Approximately 67% of the drivers surveyed are married, while 60% of this group shoulder responsibilities for at least two additional individuals.

According to the survey findings, the working environment was identified as highly stressful. A staggering 95% of the drivers reported having to work for 6-12 hours per day without any days off, placing them under immense pressure to consistently meet punctuality requirements.

According to the survey, a majority of individuals have faced challenging circumstances while working, such as adverse weather conditions and heavy traffic. Additionally, they have encountered difficulties related to loss and damage of delivered goods, demanding customer expectations, and even instances of sexual harassment.

In contracts with ride-hailing companies, drivers are often referred to as partners according to Sen. However, it is the drivers who bear the brunt of all the consequences involved.

Drivers who serve as business partners are not only responsible for sharing 20% of their fares with the companies, but they are also liable to pay corporate tax.

However, the balance of power lies entirely with the companies when it comes to determining the terms of collaboration. These contracts grant the companies complete authority to suspend or terminate cooperation with drivers at their discretion and without any limitations.

According to Sen, in theory, drivers of ride-hailing apps enjoy the flexibility of being able to choose their working hours and turn off the app whenever they desire. However, the practical reality is that if a driver goes offline for several days, their account will not receive any ride requests.

"According to Sen, ride booking restrictions serve as a means for these companies to compel us into working relentlessly without breaks."

Between 2014 and 2019, approximately 600,000 drivers ventured into the ride-hailing app industry, as stated by Do Hai Ha, a representative of Fairwork Vietnam.

According to Hai, the lack of clear definition in the relationship between drivers and companies has hindered the drivers from obtaining their rightful rights.

According to the findings of the network's research, it was discovered that none of the ride-hailing platforms operating in Vietnam could substantiate that their drivers earn a salary surpassing the minimum wage. In Ho Chi Minh City, the minimum wage stands at VND4.68 million per month.

Drivers are burdened with the expenses of purchasing their own motorbikes, phone, and medical insurance. Inadequately, the companies provide minimal coverage for accident insurance, leaving the drivers to bear most of the financial responsibility.

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