UberX: Pak Ade and the new economy / Pak Ade dan ekonomi baru

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A steady job? UBERrated

From a tale of two Bluebird Taxi drivers, to the experience of an old-style ojek left behind by the new economy, to this: the story of a brand new Uber driver.

Yesterday I took an UberX (a car, rather than motorbike taxi) driven by Pak Ade. He was a friendly guy, enjoying his day and happy to chat about his experience since becoming an Uber driver a short time ago. He told me:

“I’ve been online for four months, and alhamdulillah (praise God), it’s been good so far. Before, I worked in a bank. The work was fine, but to be honest, the salary wasn’t much. I got about three million rupiah a month, plus a few allowances and some overtime. My wife earned more than I did selling mobile phone accessories at Roxy – just for minding a kiosk! Yeah, even though it was a ‘good job’  I sometimes felt ashamed, earning less than my wife.

“So it’s like this: I’d heard about online taxis – people said you could make good money driving for them, but I wasn’t sure that I believed it. Then one of my friends at the bank quit his job, and took the risk of borrowing money to buy a Toyota Avanza and go online. He seemed happy enough, but what convinced me was when he came back after three or four months with another new car. He put someone to work in the old one and kept the new one to drive himself. I’ve got a wife and kids, and usually I avoid risk – but that was the day I decided that I’d leave the bank and go online.

“Alhamdulillah, so far it looks like the right decision. After paying for my loan on the car – six million rupiah per month – I have ten million left, gross. After petrol – a hundred and fifty thousand rupiah per day – after my family’s needs, jajan (snacks) for my kid and my own food, I have about two million a month, net, to save.”

Several of Pak Ade’s colleagues left the bank at the same time after seeing the success of that same friend. Now they make about five times what they made as employees – although Pak Ade is quick to remind me that “you have to stay focused and work hard.” At the moment he’s working far longer hours than he did at the bank: about fourteen hours a day, seven days a week. “It’s my choice. I’m my own boss, and I’m the one who profits from my hard work. I might slow down a bit later once I’ve paid off the car.”

In the last few years the competition between online ojek and taxi services and non-connected public transport has been in and out of the news.  Plenty of bus, taxi, angkot and ojek drivers feel they’re losing out because of competition from the online model. I compare the impact of GRUBERJEK to the introduction of Bluebird Taxi in the seventies: it’s easy to imagine the complaints of other taxi drivers angry at losing out because of Bluebird‘s ‘unfair’ technological and organisational advantages – radios, reliable meters and consistently good service.

For me, the interesting thing about the story of Pak Ade and his former colleagues is this: these aren’t taxi drivers moving from one business model to another, but bank employees with what are usually regarded as good, ‘middle class’ jobs leaving stable employment for greater rewards as online taxi drivers. How big is the exodus, and will it be felt across Jakarta’s labour market? Is it too much to hope that before long employees who stay in their jobs will not only benefit directly from the services of online taxis, but also enjoy rising salaries and retention bonuses – an unexpected blessing of efek GRUBERJEK.

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Zaman perUBERan

Dari kisah dua orang sopir Bluebird Taxi, ke pengalaman seorang Ojek tradisional, ke sini: pengalaman seorang sopir Uber.

Kemarin saya sempat naik Uber(yang pakai mobil), dikemudi Pak Ade. Orangnya ramah, dan senang bercerita tentang pengalaman dia sejak bergabung dengan Uber tidak lama yang lalu. Kata Pak Ade:

“Saya baru tiga bulan ini menjadi online… bagus juga selama ini, alhamdulillah. Dulu saya pegawai bank – pekerjaannya okey, tapi sebenarnya gaji tidak begitu bagus – dapat tiga jutaan, tambah tunjuangan sedikit, kadang tambah lembur. Isteri saya jualan asesoris HP di Roxy, jaga kios saja, dapatnya lebih banyak daripada saya di bank. Kadang malu sendiri, kalah sama isteri.

“Nah, begini ceritanya: saya pernah dengar tentang online, orang bilang dapatnya lumayan, cuman saya nggak begitu percaya, takut nggak benar itu. Tapi salah satu rekan saya di bank berani memundurkan diri, meminjam uang dan beli mobil Avanza, jadi online. Kayaknya dia senang juga, tapi saya jadi yakin ketika habis tiga, empat bulan dia kembali dengan mobil baru lagi. Mobil pertama dia kasih ke orang, dan dia beli lagi. Saya punya anak, punya isteri, bisanya nggak berani ambil risiko, tetapi saat itu saya putuskan daripada tetap di bank saya coba juga masuk online.

“Alhamdulillah, sejauh ini saya lihat keputusan itu benar. Sekarang setelah nyicil buat mobil – setoran enam juta setiap bulan –  masih tinggal sepuluh juta, kotor. Habis bensin – seratus lima puluh ribu rupiah per hari – habis harian keluarga, jajan anak saya dan harian saya buat makan, tinggal dua juta per bulan, bersih, buat tabungan.”

Kata Pak Ade, beberapa di antara mantan rekan dia di bank juga keluar setelah melihat teman mereka yang terlebih dahulu keluar dan berhasil. Pendapatan bulanan mereka kurang lebih lima kali lebih besar daripada gaji di bank dulu, walaupun memang menurut Pak Ade “Harus fokus, harus rajin,” – dia mengakui jam kerjanya sekarang lebih lama, kira-kira empat belas jam per hari, tujuh hari per minggu. “Tetapi enaknya, saya menjadi bos sendiri, dan saya sendiri yang dapat hasilnya dari kerja keras saya. Mungkin nanti saya bekerja lebih sedikit kalau mobil sudah lunas.”

Selama ini saingan ojek dan taxi online dengan angkutan umum biasa cukup nyata. Banyak pengemudi taxi, bis, angkot dan ojek merasa rugi oleh karena adanya yang online. Saya rasa dampak GRUBERJEK bisa dibandingkan dengan dampak Bluebird Taxi ketika baru mulai pada tahun 70an. Gampang dibayangkan saat itu juga ada taxi biasa yang naik pitam merasa rugi karena Bluebird memanfaatkan teknologi dan budaya perusahaan (radio, argo, standar pelayanan yang unggul dan konsisten) yang dianggap ‘tidak adil’ terhadap taxi lain.

Yang menarik dari kisahnya Pak Ade dan mantan rekannya ialah: dulu mereka bukan sopir taxi biasa, tetapi pegawai bank dengan pekerjaan ‘kelas menengah’ yang selama ini dianggap bagus. Walaupun demikian, mereka rela keluar dari pekerjaan yang stabil untuk mendapat keuntungan lebih besar di dunia taxi online. Pertanyaan saya, apakah dampak kecenderungan ini akan terasa di pasar pekerjaan secara umum?

Ada kemungkinan pegawai biasa tidak hanya akan merasa manfaat secara langsung dari jasa taxi online, tetapi nanti dapat juga menikmati kenaikan gaji ketika perusahaan terpaksa menaikkan gaji untuk mempertahankan tenaga kerja mereka. Demikianlah efek tak terduga GRUBERJEK.

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