The showdown continues between drivers and VTC platforms (Uber, Heetch, Bolt...). A few months ago, professionals had obtained the introduction of a minimum price per race, set at 7.65 euros net. It was only a first step. The drivers' unions now aim to create a minimum hourly income for the sector. If the talks with the platforms are still in progress, the minimum hourly rate of VTC should join that of private employees, or 11.52 euros gross.
The VTC association of France, like the National Federation of Autoentrepreneurs (FNAE), intends to get more. “We hope, for our part, that the hourly rate will go, at least, to 15 euros gross”, indicated Grégoire Leclercq, president of the National Federation of autoentrepreneurs (FNAE) in the columns of Parisian this Thursday.
Finding common ground is not easy. The methodological debates alone occupied two negotiating sessions. “Remuneration is what remains for 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 the negotiations. Agreeing on the income therefore requires agreeing on the charges for the VTC, but this differs according to the drivers”. Given the complexity of the subject, the talks could still go on until the start of the school year, warns ARPE.
However, a compromise should emerge. It must be said that the minimum hourly income responds to an old request from drivers. All are campaigning for the approach time, that is to say the time the driver takes to reach the customer once the order has been 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 duration of the race itself. In this case, the gain is negative. And the driver knows it, since, since March 2021, the platforms have the obligation to communicate to the professionals the price of the races.
The customers of the platforms then suffer from the arbitration of the drivers. For more than a year, short trips have been frequently canceled, when they are not snubbed by the drivers. "A small race in four is not done, because the drivers considered it insufficiently profitable", confided Nicolas Prévitali, director of operations at Uber France to Figaro in January. The establishment of a minimum price per trip on the one hand, of a minimum hourly income on the other, could well change the situation.
But this better will have a price. The price of races, on the rise since January, is expected to rise further. Impossible to assess in what proportion. The platforms could however choose to take part of this increase on themselves, 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 reduce the customer's bill. Other operators could follow suit.
So far, demand is not declining. In decline during the health crisis, it is back at its highest level. However, the platforms are struggling to respond to this, due to an unprecedented shortage of drivers. "Heetch does not honor one race in five", lamented Hugues Le Chevallier, general manager of Heetch France, last January. By responding positively to the financial demands of the drivers, the operators hope for the return of the resigned. The platforms are also in negotiation with the drivers about the right to disconnect.
But the giants of the sector also have their eyes fixed on the evolution of the market. With the constant rise in VTC prices, more and more users are turning to taxis again. A strong signal, the value of the Paris taxi license has picked up: 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.