Uber drivers strike on May 8 before IPO to protest low pay

Uber's hotly anticipated stock market launch is expected to be one of the biggest IPOs in history

Uber drivers in London and NY started a series of multi-city strikes on Wednesday to protest the disparity between gig-economy conditions and the sums that investors are likely to make in Friday's blockbuster stock market debut.

The protests arrive just ahead of Uber's initial public stock offering Friday.

"This time, Uber drivers in at least 10 cities across the country plan to stage a 24-hour strike over what they describe as unfair pay and a lack of transparency".

In New York, drivers are striking from 7 a.m.to 9 a.m., according to the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

Uber drivers around the world are logging out of the company's app to protest its compensation policies ahead of a blockbuster public offering.

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Don Creery, another Uber driver, said the strike is "the culmination of years of pay being cut by constant rate reductions".

"We want a living wage", Uber driver and organiser Mostafa Maklad told Gizmodo when the strikes were first organised.

Lyft is the second-largest ride-hailing service behind Uber - set to make its own stock market debut this week.

Demands from the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which largely echoed other groups, included boosting job stability by ending "unfair deactivations", raising driver pay and increasing regulation of fares while guaranteeing drivers a larger cut. Farrell said much of that decline can be chalked up to the average driver spending less time driving. "Meanwhile, these companies are getting rich", Kevin Raghu, a Lyft driver and NYTWA member, said in a statement.

To mark its IPO, Uber says it plans to pay $300 million to more than 1.1 million drivers, a so-called "appreciation reward".

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In the United Kingdom, the Independent Workers Union said some Uber drivers are observing a nine-hour boycott. Meanwhile, they've said their pay keeps going down as their costs go up.

Across about 560 Uber and Lyft trips in Seattle, the company kept a median of 31 percent of the fare a rider paid, up from 20 percent around 2013, according to the analysis.

App-based drivers in New York City are already legally entitled to a minimum wage of about $17 an hour, which is $2 higher than the state's mandated minimum wage of $15 for other employees, to allow for expenses.

"Uber/Lyft going public on the stock market will make billionaires of Uber and Lyft bosses while drivers struggle in poverty and the companies destroy the livelihoods of drivers in every sector", the NY drivers' organization says in its call to action.

"The question will be whether this is just conservatism, Uber starting to fight back, or the company hitting tougher comps", Cordwell added.

"Uber and Lyft are unlikely to increase drivers' minimum wage to $28 simply because of the May 8 strike", Beebe said.

Lyft said drivers' hourly earnings have increased over the past two years, and drivers take home more than $20 per hour on average - though the company did not provide a median wage as an example of how that figure translated across its contract workforce.

Both Lyft and Uber consider self-driving cars to be one of the keys to turning a profit, something neither company has done so far.

"Drivers are at the heart of our service - we can't succeed without them", Uber said in a statement.

Drivers are classified as independent contractors, and lack paid sick and vacation days and must pay their own expenses, such as auto maintenance and gasoline.

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