Nigeria’s Digital Taxi Drivers Threaten to Strike

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Uber And Bolt
Uber And Bolt

Bolt and Uber drivers in Nigeria are taking a strong stance against ride-hailing companies for plotting to break the unified front of the drivers.

The Amalgamated Union of App-based Transport Workers of Nigeria (AUATWON)—the union for ride-hailing drivers—is threatening to protest against a plot that will see the union’s licence revoked.

In December 2022, Nigeria approved the very first African app-based trade union for drivers. With the approval of the Federal Ministry of Labour, AUATWON now has the power to negotiate the terms and conditions of drivers working for app-based ride-hailing companies like Uber and Bolt.

This means that Bolt, Uber and others can no longer make decisions without consulting the drivers via the Union. Across Africa, drivers of ride-hailing apps have held several strikes and protests after Bolt and Uber implemented harsh changes like increased commission fees and higher penalties.

The ride-hailing companies aren’t too happy about their inability to drive unilateral decisions. They are therefore lobbying the Nigerian Ministry of Labour to get the union’s licence revoked.

Both Uber and Bolt are making the same argument they’ve brought in courts across the world: that their drivers are not employees, but contractors and as such, have no right to protest, unionise, or strike.

This line of reasoning has failed Uber in the UK where a court, in 2021, ruled that its drivers are in fact employees and not contractors. In the US though, an appeal court recently ruled that ride-hailing drivers are contractors. In South Africa and Kenya, Uber is also facing more lawsuits from drivers who clamour against the independent contractor status these ride-hailing companies have ascribed to them.

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