Drivers struggle after Uber calls time in Việt Nam

April 16, 2018 - 09:00

A number of drivers who used to work with the ride-hailing company Uber say they are uncertain about their futures after the company closed here last week.

UberMOTO drivers march in Hà Nội on April 8 to mark the last day of the ride-sharing company in Việt Nam. — VNS Photo Khoa Thư
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — A number of drivers who used to work with the ride-hailing company Uber say they are uncertain about their futures after the company closed here last week.

UberMOTO driver Tiến Sỹ had only worked for the company for a month in Hà Nội, but says he feels his whole life has fallen apart now they have closed.

 “I had a stable source of customers with Uber and was able to make ends meet. I am so disappointed that the company is now closed in Việt Nam,” he said.

Uber officially closed in Việt Nam on April 8, two weeks after it announced its withdrawal from the market in exchange for a 27.5 per cent stake in its Singapore-based rival, Grab.

The two weeks’ notice Uber gave its drivers and employees seems not enough to prepare them for the sudden change. UberMOTO driver Nguyễn Thị Kim Cương in HCM City said she was not ready to switch to other ride-hailing services.

“People told me there were other similar companies out there, but since my husband and I had both driven for Uber for more than a year, we felt so connected to the company,” she told Zing online newspaper.

“At the moment we don’t know what we will do next,” she said.

Not only the drivers, but the former Uber employees in Việt Nam are also living in uncertainty.

Although they were all promised jobs at Grab, many see that company as “the enemy”.

“How can we not see the irony, now that we have to try to love the values, the people and the colour that we once disliked? It’s hard just to think about it,” Duyên Phạm, a former Uber’s City Operators official in HCM City, wrote on her social media profile.

“We have been fighting for so long, so much prejudice has been formed,” she wrote, referring to the relationship between Uber and Grab. “For many of us, it is better to be unemployed than to work for ‘them’”.

Uber leaving Việt Nam without instructing its drivers and employees how to transfer to Grab has posed the question of corporate responsibility to labourers.

Võ Đan Mạch, a member of the HCM City Bar Association, told Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper that the “sharing economy”, has brought about disadvantages to labourers since no written labour contracts ever existed between Uber and its drivers. (A sharing economy is an economy which focuses on the sharing of underutilised assets via a community-based online platform).

Nguyễn Tuấn Anh, CEO of Grab in Việt Nam, said ride-hailing services like Grab and Uber cannot provide benefits like social insurance, health insurance or training to its drivers like traditional business because drivers are not their employees.

“The relationship between Uber, Grab and their drivers is partnership,” he told Tuổi Trẻ.

Uber representatives could not be reached for comment.

Since Uber’s office closed in Việt Nam on March 27, Grab helped Uber drivers make the switch to their company.

On April 7, a few hours before the Uber application stop working in Việt Nam, Grab sent a thank-you email to all of its customers, pre-existing drivers, and new drivers who transferred from Uber.

“To make sure that we reached as many Uber drivers as possible, several Grab employees and driver-partners had gone out to find them, gave them information and invited them to Grab’s support centres before the Uber application ceased to work on April 8, 2018,” it reads.

“Having more drivers joining Grab does not mean there will be fewer customers, because now we have a lot more customers who switched from Uber,” the section of the email addressing the new drivers reads.

“You can increase your income because there will be more rides, and the distribution of the rides will be faster and more effective, now that we are on the same platform.” — VNS