Why drivers for Gojek, Grab, and Shopee tried to sew their lips shut in Indonesia

Blood ran down from Wely’s mouth as he pierced a sewing needle through his lower lip. Wely was one of five on-demand gig drivers who work for apps like Gojek, Grab, and Shopee, who planned to sew his lips shut this week to protest stagnating wages and poor working conditions.

But before Wely could continue, a man in a bright yellow shirt approached. 

Budi Setiyadi, the former director general of land transportation, had been sent down to the event by the Ministry of Transportation. He immediately addressed Wely and the other workers.

“Driver fees will soon be increased,” Setiyadi told the protesters. “I can tell you it will be in one or two weeks.” The…