Future of transport

Uber launches recruitment drive in China as competition, crackdowns and protests heat up

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 June, 2015, 12:33pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 August, 2015, 10:16am

Car-hailing app Uber has begun a recruitment campaign for new drivers in 12 cities across China, even as its services face action by authorities and its drivers have run up against protests from taxi operators.

Uber said in a posting on leading Chinese employment agency that it is looking for private vehicle drivers in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin as well as Guangzhou, Suzhou, Xi’an, Ningbo, Foshan, Xiamen, Qingdao, Changsha and Nanjing.

The job offers up to 8,000 yuan (US$1,290) each week in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou and 7,000 yuan in other cities if drivers take 70 orders weekly, the posting said.

The move comes as Uber faces increasing competition in China from home-grown rivals, as well as pressure from authorities and sometimes violent protests from taxi drivers who see the apps as stealing their business.

Earlier this year, two of its offices in Guangzhou and Chengdu were raided by the authorities, following a nationwide ban on private cars offering taxi services. At least two drivers who work for the company in Guangzhou and Chengdu have been attacked by taxi drivers or subject to blackmail attempts in the past week.

But car-hailing services remain wildly popular in China, and continue to function despite the ban. The country’s biggest operator, Didi Kuaidi, has just launched a car-pooling service as it seeks to head off Uber. Didi Kuaidi said it has already recruited more than one million drivers to the service, Didi Shun Fenche, which loosely translates as Didi Carpool.

Most drivers were motivated by a desire to "cost share during their commutes" rather than make a profit, the company said. However the city government of Beijing said on Tuesday that Didi’s private car service was illegal.

Uber said in its recruitment ad that the work is flexible and there is no initial fee. The company would supply an iPhone 4S and would pay a middleman bonus for anyone introducing more new drivers.

“If you want to get online, you get online. If you are tired, you go home. No need to compete for orders. You can get orders when sleeping at home.” it said. The ad did not say how many drivers it was seeking in each city.

Uber also said it was looking for other staff in China, including designers and managers in IT, marketing, operations, PR, administration and government relations.

Uber now covers nine Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chongqing. Globally, by May Uber was available in 58 countries and 300 cities. It is estimated that it will generate US$10 billion in revenue this year. Didi Kuaidi, the product of a merger earlier this year of two car-hailibng firms, covers 360 cities and has 1.35 million drivers.

On a visit to China last week, Uber chief executive and founder Travis Kalanick said the company would "learn the local laws and bylaws to make sure its service is legal in China".