The tug-of-war continues between drivers and VTC platforms (Uber, Heetch, Bolt ...). A few months ago, the professionals had obtained the introduction of a minimum rate per race, set at 7.65 euros net. That was just the first step. Drivers' unions are now aiming to create a minimum hourly income for the sector. If talks with platforms are still ongoing, the minimum hourly rate of VTC should join that of private sector employees, i.e. 11.52 euros gross.
The association of VTC of France, as well as the National Federation of Autoentrepreneurs (FNAE), intends to obtain more. "We hope, for our part, that the hourly rate will rise, at least, to 15 euros gross," said Grégoire Leclercq, president of the National Federation of Autoentrepreneurs (FNAE) in the columns of the Parisian this Thursday.
Finding common ground is not easy. The methodological discussions alone occupied two negotiating sessions. "The remuneration is what remains to the driver after payment of the charges, explains Joël Blondel, director general of the Authority for social relations of employment platforms (ARPE), responsible for organizing negotiations. Agreeing on income therefore requires agreement on the charges of VTC, but this differs according to the drivers. " Given the complexity of the subject, the talks could still extend until the start of the school year, warns the EPRA.
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Support for small errands
However, a compromise should emerge. It must be said that the hourly minimum income responds to an old request of drivers. All are campaigning for the approach time, i.e. the time it takes the driver to reach the customer once the order is accepted, to be remunerated. This is already the case for taxis, not yet for VTC drivers. However, it is not uncommon for the approach time to exceed the duration of the race itself. In this case, the gain is negative. And the driver knows it, since, since March 2021, platforms have the obligation to communicate to professionals the price of rides.
Platform customers then suffer from driver arbitration. For more than a year, short trips have been frequently cancelled, when they are not snubbed by drivers. "A small trip out of four is not made, because the drivers considered it insufficiently remunerative," confided Nicolas Prévitali, director of operations at Uber France to Le Figaro in January. The introduction of a minimum fare per trip on the one hand, and a minimum hourly income on the other, could change the situation.
But this better will come at a price. The price of groceries, which has been rising since January, is expected to rise further. It is impossible to assess in what proportion. The platforms could, however, choose to take on themselves part of this increase, as suggested by a leader in Le Parisien. The Bolt platform, which guarantees its drivers a remuneration of 10 euros per trip, regularly offers promo codes of 30% to 50% to lighten the customer's bill. Other operators could follow suit.
For the time being, demand is not declining. In decline during the health crisis, it is back to its highest level. However, platforms are struggling to respond, due to an unprecedented shortage of drivers. "Heetchdoes not honor one race out of five," lamented Hugues Le Chevallier, CEO of Heetch France, last January. By responding positively to the financial demands of drivers, operators hope for the return of those who have resigned. The platforms are also negotiating with drivers about the right to disconnect.
But the giants of the sector also have their eyes riveted on the evolution of the market. With the constant increase in VTC fares, more and more users are turning to taxis again. Strong signal, the value of the Parisian taxi license has resumed colors: it is worth 173,000 euros, while it had plunged to 115,000 euros in 2018. The activity of the first taxi company, G7, even reached records in 2021. For their part, the vast majority of VTC operators are still not profitable. The question of the competitiveness of operators, in an evolving regulatory framework, therefore arises.