Grab, Gojek drivers in Indonesia threaten nationwide protests over merger talks

Indonesian motorbike driver unions for ride-hailing and food delivery firms Grab and Gojek say they will kick off protests across the country if merger talks between the firms proceed without them, fearing it could result in mass job losses.

“We are concerned that a merger will result in the termination of drivers,” said Igun Wicaksono, who heads “Garda Nasional”, a union of more than 100,000 Grab and Gojek drivers, who called for government and driver involvement in the negotiations.

“If we are ignored, then our last resort will be to conduct mass demonstrations across Indonesia.” Sources had told Reuters that Southeast Asia’s two most valuable start-ups, who compete in ride-hailing, digital payments, and food delivery services, are in advanced talks to merge, with the major sticking point being over what a shared entity would look like in Indonesia, their largest market.

The people said many investors at each of the loss-making companies, notably major Grab backer SoftBank Group founder Masayoshi Son are keen for a merger to pave the way for a public listing. A spokeswoman for Jakarta-based Gojek – backed by investors including Alphabet’s Google and valued by investors at around $10 billion during its latest round of funding – said the firm does not comment on market speculation. Grab, valued at $15 billion, declined to comment.

But ride-hailing drivers in Indonesia said they are worried about what a deal will mean for their livelihoods, after their incomes were slashed earlier this year as the coronavirus pandemic battered Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

Garda Nasional said its drivers have recovered about 70% of their pre-pandemic income, but that thousands had been evicted from their homes during May to July. Unions in Indonesia, who represent over a million drivers, say they want the government to join the negotiations to protect them.

“A merger is detrimental and we will protest against Grab, Gojek, as well as against Japan’s Softbank if there’s no dialogue with us and regulators or authorities,” said Fadel Balher, a driver union representative in East Kalimantan. “And we will protest loudly.”

Indonesia’s antitrust watchdog told Reuters it hadn’t been notified by the firms of a merger, but was monitoring coverage of the talks. Indonesia’s ministry of transport told reporters it had not been contacted by the firms.

Reuters

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.