Uber staff will be given roles: Grab

Ride-hailing firm assures displaced Uber staff of roles after acquiring rival's South-east Asian business

Grab has assured displaced staff from its ride-hailing rival Uber that they will be offered roles in the new merged entity.

In a one-hour town hall session at Shine Auditorium in Shaw Towers yesterday, Grab co-founders Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling, and Uber's Asia-Pacific chief business officer Brooks Entwistle addressed more than 200 employees from both companies.

"Grab can definitely use all of the talented individuals in the Uber team. We still have big ambitions with Grab, not just in transport, but also food, delivery, payments, financial services and more. How we can make that happen will be part of the further conversations between Grab and all Uber employees," its spokesman said.

On Facebook and LinkedIn, Singapore-headquartered Grab uploaded photos of new work spaces for Uber employees who had been let go.

The town hall came a day after Uber's sale of its South-east Asian business to Grab.

Mr Chua Ee Chien, 29, an operations and logistics manager with Uber, said: "The main concern when these mergers happen is whether we will lose our jobs. I am just glad we will get offered similar roles."

However, other Uber staff at the town hall appeared visibly upset and said they were depressed over the news.

Though contract staff with Uber were not invited to the town hall, Grab said it will work with agencies managing contract staff to place them in "appropriate roles".

As for Uber private-hire drivers who have contracts with Uber-owned Lion City Rentals, Grab said it would honour the contracts until they expire and that drivers could opt to rent a car from one of Grab's fleet partners after that.

Meanwhile, taxi giant ComfortDelGro informed its 23,000 hirer-drivers on Monday night that they could delete the Uber app from their phones.

Many drivers were taken aback and took to social media with their questions.

"So, can we use JustGrab now?" one asked, referring to the rival app that ComfortDelGro and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) objected to Comfort cabbies using just a week ago, as the taxi firm does not have a partnership with Grab.

Grab told The Straits Times that it will reach out to ComfortDelGro on this.

"We continue to be open to partnerships and to find a solution that is in the best interest of the market and our users," its spokesman said.

Mr Ang Hin Kee, who is adviser to both the taxi and private-hire associations, said that some private-hire drivers are worried about their livelihoods following the announcement of the acquisition.

"As there was no prior notice given to drivers, they are left feeling unsure about how they can continue with their business and obligations they are under. They are also not sure if potential losses can be recovered, or if there might be other lost opportunities," he said.

Mr Ang, who met some of these drivers yesterday morning, noted that some were also concerned about being allowed back on the Grab platform after leaving the company on bad terms or having been banned.

He said the National Private Hire Vehicles Association had asked that Grab offers these drivers a clean slate, except for those who had serious violations, such as endangering the safety of passengers.

He said that both the National Taxi Association and the National Private Hire Vehicles Association have conveyed drivers' concerns to the LTA and the Competition Commission of Singapore.

"In particular, irrespective of this acquisition outcome or alliance among fleet and app operators, drivers and commuters must be able to access options and choices," he added.