Grab Makes a U-Turn on COVID-19 Relief Package After Social Media Backlash

In case you don’t really know what happened, many private hire vehicle (PHV) drivers previously stepped out to condemn ride-hailing firm Grab for their perceived move of pegging the COVID-19 relief package to an incentive plan to encourage drivers to work harder. The current incentive plan was also suspended.

This meant that those in the two lower tiers get $45 a week in aid, and those in the upper tiers get up to $85 a week.

Image: Giphy

As such, Grab now makes a U-turn on that move and clarifies through a media statement that all Grab drivers will be entitled to a financial aid of up to $70 a week from the government, with an additional “weekly cover” scheme of up to $85 a week from the firm itself.

So, what happened?

Super Steady Streak Programme

Grab previously announced on Thursday, 20 February, that they would be stopping their Super Steady Streak scheme where they gave drivers financial rewards for completing 200 rides or more within a month, and for keeping up that streak.

They then retracted their statement the following day after a discussion with a number of drivers along with the National Private Hire Vehicles Association (NPHVA) and the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

Pegging COVID-19 Relief Package To Various Incentive Tiers

When it was found out that Grab was going to vary the amount of financial aid given to each driver based on their progression in the incentive programmes, many drivers were angered and actively showed their displeasure on social media over this move.

The financial aid was part of the government’s $77 million aid package to help all PHV and taxi drivers affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, with $45 million coming from the government and the rest being paid by the private-hire companies.

Drivers, however, need to have completed at least 200 rides per month from October to December 2019 in order to be entitled to the government payouts.

Drivers then said that they were earning more money before the package was implemented.

Grab’s Statement In Response

NPHVA adviser Ang Kin Kee said in a statement that through their discussion with a few Grab and LTA personnel, “Our private hire drivers have already started to feel the brunt of the COVID-19 outbreak, with many of them experiencing a drop in earnings. This announcement from Grab has caused drivers to be concerned with how they might be in a worse-off position due to the changes.

“Following our conversation, Grab has agreed to extend the Super Steady Streak scheme until May 2020, and that there will be continued discussions between Grab and NPHVA to review the scheme.”

A Grab spokesperson later said, “Our primary intent was to provide better earnings security for our driver-partners, especially when we have seen a decline in rides per driver-partner, mostly due to decreased commuter demand and drop in tourist arrivals.”

Drivers will be able to get the weekly financial aid payouts they deserve starting March and this will carry on for the next three months.

Image: Giphy