The widow of a private-hire driver who was murdered in his car last year has launched a safety campaign in his name, alongside the trade union he was a member of.
Gabriel Bringye, 37, who was killed while working for the Bolt rideshare app, was “always ready to stand up for others,” according to his partner.
What happened to Gabriel Bringye?
The Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) trade union held a vigil last week to mark a year since the murder of Gabrial Bringye and the start of ‘Garbriel’s Campaign for Driver Safety’.
Gabriel had been working through the Bolt app on the night he was killed, after accepting a fare from a phone which later turned out to have been stolen.
Bolt is an app similar to Uber, which private-hire drivers use in order to take on fares.
Gabriel was discovered collapsed having suffered a knife wound inside his cab at around 7pm on 17 February, and was pronounced dead at the scene 40 minutes later.
He had been signed in to the app carrying out a job when he was attacked, but no alarm was raised despite his position being recorded as stationary for several hours, according to IWGB.
Campaigners say that an alert mechanism should have been triggered or that the alarm should have been raised by the unusual behaviour, prompting some kind of welfare check.
Since his death, Bolt has introduced an automated welfare check feature, but drivers say they still don’t feel safe and properly protected.
Now Gabriel’s partner, Mariana Fazecas, who he was due to marry last year, is calling on Bolt to introduce additional safety measures to keep drivers protected.
She said: "When Gabriel was killed I lost my partner, my heart and my future. I miss him every minute.
“A year after his death we should not still have to worry that other drivers’ lives are at risk because these common sense health and safety measures still are not in place.
“But Gabriel was always ready to stand up for others, so Gabriel’s Campaign for Driver Safety seems like the perfect way to honour him."
IWGB is calling on Bolt to provide full sick pay for drivers injured at work, plus subsidised security equipment.
They also want Bolt to introduce a basic customer ID and password protection system, as well as creating a functioning system for handling complaints and support requests from drivers.
Also involved in the campaign is Renata Bringye, Gabriel’s sister, who is an IWGB members and private-hire driver.
She is still doing the job which her brother was doing when he was killed, and says she is still waiting for Bolt to “discuss what needs to change”.
She said: "A year after my brother was killed I am still working behind the wheel and still waiting for Bolt to sit down with us and our union, the IWGB, to discuss what needs to change to make drivers like us feel safe.
“Drivers must come together to challenge this culture that says we are disposable, that we don’t matter. That will only change if we stand up together. That’s what Gabriel’s Campaign is all about."
IWGB says that workplace violence and abuse are widespread issues for private-hire drivers, as well as many other workers in the gig economy.
Seven in 10 drivers have been assaulted on the job, while eight in 10 have been victims of verbal abuse, according to a survey carried out by the union.
Bolt is a high-profile firm which has recently attracted valuations of around £6bn, as it is widely considered to be Uber’s biggest and best positioned competitor.
Campaigners have launched a petition calling on Bolt CEO Markus Villig to “improve safety protections in Gabriel’s name”, which has already gathered hundreds of signatures.
Nader Awaad, Chair of the United Private Hire Drivers (IWGB), says: “Every driver deserves to feel safe in their place of work but a year since Gabriel’s tragic murder the threat of abuse, harassment and violence is still a daily part of the job and multi-billion pound corporations like Bolt still neglect even the most rudimentary safety measures such as proper sick pay, customer ID checks and a functioning support line for drivers.
“We are launching our safety campaign in Gabriel’s name so that the apps may never forget the cost of their apathy and inaction.”
What has Bolt done to address drivers’ concerns?
A Bolt spokesperson told NationalWorld that they are “constantly assessing and improving the safety protection available” to drivers.
They said: "This was a shocking incident and a senseless tragedy, and we offer our condolences to Gabriel’s family and friends on the anniversary of his tragic death.
“Bolt drivers need to feel respected and safe whilst driving on our platform and we are constantly assessing and improving the safety protection available.
“Our in-app SOS button can be deployed by drivers immediately and connects directly to the emergency services and Bolt’s safety team, and in the past year we have introduced new welfare checks on static vehicles and 24/7 support both in-app and on the phone.
“We have also significantly increased the size of our safety team who focus on removing passengers with consistently poor driver feedback from our platform."