Uber drivers in Australia on Wednesday led off a global series of protests against the ride-hailing company and rival Lyft.
Protests lasting two hours were also expected in London and major U.S. cities — just hours before Uber’s highly anticipated initial public offering, which is slated to be one of the biggest in history.
Several labor groups organized the protests in an effort to shed light on both companies’ labor and payment practices.
Drivers for Uber in Australia briefly went on strike early Wednesday, the first of a series of global protests for better pay and benefits, the New York Times reported.
Ride-hailing drivers in New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles and London were set for a two-hour strike Wednesday morning, according to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, just a few hours before Uber is expected to go public with some estimates giving the company an eye-popping $90 billion valuation.
Drivers were also expected to rally at Uber’s and Lyft’s New York City headquarters at 1 p.m.
“I’m striking for my kid’s future,” Sonam Lama, NYTWA member and Uber driver since 2015, said.
Lama said it has become harder and harder to survive as an Uber driver because the company cut the drivers’ rates and put too many cars on the roads so there are not enough fares to go around.
Varinder Kumar, another NYTWA member, who has worked for Uber, Lyft and Juno, said he’s protesting because Uber deactivated his account five months ago without any reason.
“They refuse to tell me why I was deactivated. I’ve been a professional driver in New York City since 1992 and I have never once gotten a traffic ticket or have been in a car accident.”
Drivers’ list of demands include job security, livable incomes and for the companies to regulate the fare, guaranteeing 80 to 85 percent of the fare to the driver.
In a statement to FOX Business, an Uber spokesperson said its drivers are “at the heart of our service” and “we can’t succeed without them.”
The company said it plans to continue to work to improve the experience “for and with” its drivers.
Additionally, it said it plans to offer its longest-serving drivers a piece of the IPO by offering them a one-time cash payout of up to $10,000.
While a Lyft spokesperson said its hourly earnings for its drivers have increased over the last two years and they have earned more than $10 billion on the Lyft platform.
“Over 75 percent drive less than 10 hours a week to supplement their existing jobs. On average, Lyft drivers earn over $20 per hour. We know that access to flexible, extra income makes a big difference for millions of people, and we’re constantly working to improve how we can best serve our driver community.”