Socialist Worker

Bolt drivers strike and protest for pay and safety

by Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2760

Taking the message to Bolt bosses on Tuesday

Taking the message to Bolt bosses on Tuesday (Pic: ADCU on Twitter)


Drivers for rideshare app Bolt are sick of low pay and a dangerous work environment.

Over 100 drivers struck and rallied outside the company’s headquarters on Tuesday.

The members of the ADCU union have three demands. They want pay of at least £2 per mile, worker status and an end to unfair dismissals.

Drivers blocked the road before marching to Bolt headquarters.

The strike went ahead despite bosses offering an £80 bribe to try and make drivers work.

Safety is a major issue for drivers. Anna told Socialist Worker that she hasn’t driven for Bolt since her colleague Gabriel Bringye was killed while driving for the app in May.

“Bolt never told us what they planned to do to protect us after Gabriel was killed. They never even sent us an email,” she said.

“As a woman, I can’t take the risk, if I get attacked I feel Bolt won’t care.”

Anna also said that some Bolt drivers believe they can’t report incidents or say no to trips because they fear being barred from the app.

“You have to accept every job that they give you, even if you feel unsafe. If you complain or don’t want to accept jobs you can be deactivated for sometimes weeks,” she said.

Fault

Ramand, who has worked for Bolt for two years, said “to Bolt the driver is always is the one at fault for any incident, it’s never the customer.

“If you try and call the service line to make a report you get put on hold for hours. You just stop trying.”

He added that the company “refuses to pay for any damage that is done to our cars by customers, and just tell us to make a claim through our insurance.”

Driver Alex explained to Socialist Worker why ADCU members are pushing for £2 a mile.

“So many trips that I do simply aren’t worth it. If you add on fuel and the congestion charge, I’m making just over £1 per mile sometimes. And that’s before Bolt takes its cut.”

Catalin also added that the pay for rideshare apps should be regulated like it is for black cabs.

“Bolt is still regulated by Transport for London (TfL). So why isn’t my pay?

“We work day and night for exactly the same price—that’s not the case for black cab drivers.”

And Catalin added that there is a general lack of consideration for drivers at Bolt.

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“The company hasn’t even got somewhere we can go to the toilet. I have to piss outside my car when I’m on the job.”

Driver Abdi added, “At the moment we are considered to be self-employed. This means we don’t get basic workers’ rights such as holiday pay.”

ADCU president Yaseen Aslam told Socialist Worker, “I began work for rideshare apps in 2006. The pay per mile was £1.50 and since then drivers have actually seen a decrease of their wages.”

The ADCU plans legal action against Bolt following the victory in getting Uber to recognise their 70,000 drivers as workers.

Everyone will hope the legal action wins.

But the battle outside of court is even more vital. The protest and strike on Tuesday showed that workers are ready to fight.

More action can force Bolt and other rideshare apps to concede to all the workers’ demands.

Some workers’ names have been changed. Send solidarity here

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