Uber has been operating in Chile for nine years. It was the first company of this type of service, joined by others such as Cabify and Didi. Constantly under the complaints of traditional taxi drivers who claim that they have to meet a much higher standard in order to work. With the aim of regulating applications that offer informal passenger transportation, the government of Gabriel Boric is in the process of introducing a law called the Uber Law to level the conditions that digital platforms offering these services must meet. And of course the debate with drivers is ongoing. There are some academics who question the regulations because of their possible impact on employment rates.
The impending entry into force of the provisions of Law 21,553 has led the drivers of these transport applications to fight with the left-wing government to make the conditions more flexible and to delay the application planned for this year. Drivers are required to have a professional driving license, be registered in the official register and that the vehicle used meets a number of characteristics, mainly related to its age. In early January, the government sent the legislative document to the Comptroller's Office, the agency that oversees state administration, for review and approval, which could take up to six months.
Transportation Secretary Juan Carlos Muñoz tried to turn a cold shoulder to the discussion by announcing a series of changes to Congress last week. The displacement of the cars, which was previously 1.4 liters, has now been supplemented with “or equivalent”, with the argument that there are vehicles with internal combustion engines that have a similar performance with a slightly smaller displacement. The age of cars for first registration has been reduced from the requirement that they must be new to one year. For those currently working with the applications, the regulation has been changed from a maximum of seven years to ten years. Finally, the freezing of vehicle registrations, which applies from the moment the law comes into force, only affects drivers and no longer applies to vehicles and drivers, as was initially the case.
The Application Drivers Union (Sincapp Chile), which has almost 600 members, has requested that the document be withdrawn by the Comptroller's Office and the deadlines extended to meet all new requirements. It reported that about 40% of its members were removed from the register for failing to meet future standards and that 67% of its members work full-time and the remaining 33% use this as additional income.
89% of drivers
A study carried out by the Observatory of the Economic Context of the University of Diego Portales (OCEC-UDP) estimates that 88.9% of those who today deal with the transport of passengers through these applications will have to stop their work if the new regulation comes into force occurs. . There would be 35,992 people, including 18,787 Chileans and 17,135 foreigners. In addition, it is estimated that the overall unemployment rate would increase by 0.4 percentage points. These calculations were made before the changes presented last week, so the number is likely to decrease.
To reassure the sector about the speed of time, Minister Muñoz said that once the document is approved by the Audit Office, there will be one month for processing so that it can come into force. The companies then have six months to enter their drivers in the official register. Registered drivers will not be required to have a commercial license for the first twelve months, which should give them time to sort out their situation.
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