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Ride-Hailing Union in Nigeria Renames Itself

The drivers union has opted for pragmatism as a course of action due to delays in formalizing an amalgamated drivers union that were centered on a single technicality.

Ride-Hailing Union (PHOTO; Techrectory)
Ride-Hailing Union (PHOTO; Techrectory)

Nigeria’s ride-hailing drivers united into the Amalgamated Union of App-Based Transport Workers of Nigeria (AUATWON) in January 2023, merging all previous unions and associations. For the drivers, whose unionization efforts span seven years, it was a pivotal time. In order to formally establish the new union, AUATWON submitted an application to register with the Ministry of Labor in Nigeria. Although the application was meant to be simple, the ministry has the ability to consider objections to a union’s registration during certain stages of the process.

There were reportedly objections from Uber and Bolt when the ride-hailing union published its application notice. Due to their status as independent contractors rather than employees, both businesses claimed that drivers are unable to organize trade unions. Uber has contested and lost this legal issue regarding the distinction in how drivers are classified in certain jurisdictions.

It seems that the drivers union has reached a compromise in response to those worries. The controversial “workers” label has been dropped from the ride-hailing drivers’ name, which they now go by as the Amalgamated Union of App-based Transporters of Nigeria (AUATON). Even now, the drivers see this as a win.

AUATON is able to organize effectively, demand their rights, and picket. The Amalgamated Union of App-based Transporters of Nigeria (AUATON) general secretary, Ibrahim Ayoade, stated that the victory was the result of a valiant struggle. “I remember the beginning of the struggle. We met for the first time in 2016 at YabaTech to start the ride-hailing union. After the national stadium hosted our second meeting, there have been many highs and lows.

Ayoade stated that the union would have a wider perspective now that AUATON has received approval from Nigeria’s Ministry of Labor. According to Ayoade, the name was chosen after extensive research, but the main goal of the amendment is to include everyone working in the gig economy who is involved in the transportation industry under the union, not just drivers. He claims the name is a “win-win” and marks the first time a union will represent the gig worker sector internationally in the history of African gig workers. In a different call, the Union’s national treasurer, Jolaiya Moses, declared, “We are done with registration as far as the trade union act is concerned.”

AUATON is willing to work with others. The cooperation between the app companies and drivers is the next step. According to Ayoade, the union wants better conditions for transporters to drive in. “A union does not aim to undermine any business, Uber or Bolt included. It comes down to comprehension. We will succeed if these ride-hailing app companies continue to grow. Our members will see increases in pay,” he declared.

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Written by Grace Ene

Author for Techrectory.

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