SINGAPORE - Taxi giant ComfortDelGro has told its cabbies to delete the Uber app on their phones, following the American ride-hailing firm's sale of its South-east Asian business to rival Grab on Monday (March 26).
Meanwhile, Grab has reached out to displaced Uber staff. On Facebook and LinkedIn, the Singapore-headquartered firm uploaded photos of new work spaces for Uber employees who were let go on Monday.
Publicly listed ComfortDelGro, in a text message to its estimated 23,000 hirer-drivers on Monday evening, said: "Dear cabbies, UberFlash will cease on April 8 2018. You may delete the Uber driver app any time now since it will no longer be in use. ComfortDelGro will continue to provide you jobs... We thank you for your continued support."
Many drivers were taken aback, and took to social media.
"So can we use JustGrab now?" one asked, referring to the rival app which ComfortDelGro objected to just a week earlier.
On its part, Grab told The Straits Times that it will reach out to ComfortDelGro. “We continue to be open to partnerships and to find a solution that is in the best interest of the market and our users,” its spokesman said.
In a statement on Tuesday night, the Ministry of Manpower said it is following the situation closely. It noted that Uber employees have been placed on paid leave for three months and Grab's senior management has "given the assurance of finding suitable roles" for Uber employees at Grab.
Its spokesman added that Workforce Singapore and NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute are ready to offer employment assistance services to any of the affected employees, if needed. In the event that they have employment-related disputes, they can approach the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management for assistance.
Meanwhile, Mr Ang Hin Kee, who is adviser to both the taxi and private-hire associations, said drivers are worried about their livelihoods following Uber's exit from South-east Asia.
"We received feedback from concerned private-hire drivers on how their livelihoods may be affected, in particular those whose contracts are with Lion City Rentals (owned by Uber). These drivers are only allowed to use Uber, and I understand some of them have tried to contact LCR or Uber's office but to no avail."
Mr Ang said: "As there was no prior notice given to drivers, they are left feeling unsure about how they can continue with their business and obligations they are under. They are also not sure if potential losses can be recovered or if there might be other lost opportunities.
"Similarly, ComfortDelGro drivers who have been taking UberFlash jobs for the past few months are also now unsure about their options, if they are able to take on JustGrab jobs going forward."
He said both the National Taxi Association and the National Private Hire Vehicles Association have conveyed drivers' concerns to the Land Transport Authority and the Competition Commission of Singapore.
"In particular, irrespective of this acquisition outcome or alliance among fleet and app operators, drivers and commuters must be able to access options and choices," he added.
Grab’s head of people, Ms Ong Chin Yin, posted a video on Monday to invite former Uber staff to a townhall meeting at 4.30pm on Tuesday.
“Hey Uber team, we know that today has been an emotional and trying day. On the part of Grab, we are committed to try and find a suitable role for you at Grab. We can’t wait to start reaching out to all of you,” she said.