Bhairavi Desai leads taxi workers to protest

Taxis For All Campaign & the New York Taxi Workers Alliance held a press conference to highlight how deregulating taxi services will destroy NYC jobs and preempt wheelchair accessibility programs by flooding NYC streets with unregulated for-hire vehicles

The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which has a significant number of Indian and South Asian-origin cabbies, has issued a statement supporting taxi drivers on strike against Uber’s poverty pay in Qatar and India. The NYTWA is led by Indian-American activist Bhairavi Desai.

In a message issued here, Desai said, “Rights groups are concerned that the proposed Uber legislation discriminates against people with disabilities by not mandating wheelchair-accessibility standards, hurts consumers, erodes labor rights, and will destroy full-time work for professional drivers. Although the bill does not include NYC, it includes all of its surrounding cities and counties, meaning that NYC streets will be flooded with unregulated for-hire vehicles with no wheelchair accessibility mandates, hurting both passengers and professional drivers.”

In New Delhi, thousands of Uber drivers are on strike over issues of rate cuts and what they consider Uber’s global monopoly tactic of flooding streets with vehicles making it harder for each driver to make a living.

“Our brothers in India mobilized after a fellow Uber driver committed suicide from the persistent poverty and pressure to make lease payment,” the statement from NYTWA said, adding that Uber’s only response has been to file an injunction against the drivers’ organizations for striking.

“While multi-nationals often explain away deplorable treatment by pointing out lack of labor law in countries like Qatar, the reality is, Uber does not respect labor law anywhere, whether in Doha, New Delhi or New York,” the statement said.

The NYTWA said its 19,000-members stand in solidarity with the 700 Uber drivers in Qatar who are on their fifth day of strike. “We salute your courage, your determination, your loyalty to each other, and your passion for a world that is just to workers. We understand your strike is over Uber’s low wages and that this poverty for you brings the dire risks of deportation, as you risk losing your work visas when you cannot keep up with your car leases due to low pay.”

According to the NYTWA, the Uber drivers on strike in Doha, Qatar reached out to to them for solidarity after they saw the strength of their strike against the Muslim Ban and the #DeleteUber campaign.

Founded in 1998, NYTWA is the 19,000-member strong union of NYC taxicab drivers, representing yellow cab drivers, green car, and black car drivers, including drivers for Uber and Lyft.  We fight for justice, rights, respect and dignity for the over 50,000 licensed men and women who often labor 12 hour shifts with little pay and few protections in the city’s mobile sweatshop.  Our members come from every community, garage, and neighborhood. To find out more visit NYTWA.org, follow us on Twitter.com/NYTWA, or like us on facebook.com/nytwa.

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