Uber India Lays Off 600 As Ride Demands Vanish Amid COVID-19

As India sees COVID-19 cases quickly climb for the seventh day in a row as of Tuesday (May 26), Uber, like most businesses in the country, is seeing a severe dropoff in the demand for its services and will layoff about 600 workers.

The move is part of a survival strategy amid the pandemic that will reduce Uber’s global workforce by 23 percent. The move is also intended to get the company on a path of profitability.

“The impact of Covid-19 and the unpredictable nature of the recovery has left Uber IndiaSA with no choice but to reduce the size of its workforce,” Uber India and South Asia President Pradeep Parameswaran told Reuters in a report on Monday (May 26).

There are now more than 145, 456 coronavirus cases in India, with a death toll of 4,172, according to the official numbers recorded at John Hopkins.

Uber’s main competitor Ola announced last week that it was cutting 1,400 jobs as revenue slid 95 percent since the virus hit the area.

The demand for ride-hailing services India started slowing down in late March as stay-home mandates were instituted and the country locked down in an effort to contain the pandemic.

A source told Reuters Uber India employed approximately 2,400-2,500 before the layoffs.

Last week, Uber said it was planning to cut 3,000 jobs worldwide and close 45 offices while also looking at other cost-saving measures to offset the huge losses due to the pandemic. Job cuts do not include drivers, who technically are not employees. Prior to this layoff, Uber had already announced it would lay off 3,700 people.

The company is seeking to buy Uber Eats rival Grubhub, but after talks stalled last week, no new discussions have been announced.

In January, Uber sold off its Eats business in India to Zomato. Uber also recently shed ventures in Russia, China and Southeast Asia to keep its promise to get rid of money-losers and turn a profit.