On Tuesday, January 24, ride-hailing drivers formed a trade union that got the Federal Government of Nigeria’s approval. The union, which is to be known as the Amalgamated Union of App-Based Transport Workers of Nigeria (AUATWN) has been in the making for a long time.
It is made up of app-based transport workers, online transport services, and e-hailing drivers and operators in the country, including popular ones like Bolt and Uber.
In a statement at the presentation of the letter confirming the union, Chris Ngige, Nigeria’s Labour Minister said that the move means recognition for the ‘informal sector’.
He added that the ministry considered important factors and perimeters before approving the union after receiving their application for registration in April 2021.
“The need to ensure that such workers enjoy trade union rights for the purpose of furthering and defending their interest, which includes collective bargaining, has often been emphasised in different fora, concerning the world of work. But for the self-employed, it is a different kind of collective bargaining, tailored to suit the peculiarities of the self-employed segment of workers,” Ngige said.
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Dr Adedaramola Adeniran has been appointed as the president of the AUATWON and he said that the existence of the union will protect workers by ensuring their safety and promote the responsibility of app-based unions.
Is The Ride-Hailing Trade Union In Nigeria A Good Move?
As the statements have shown, trade unions typically exist for the purpose of protecting workers. Mobility companies like Uber and Bolt are foreign-owned firms, which means that there have been very limited monitoring of their activities, especially in the way it relates to workers.
Given this leeway, they could skirt rules that typically apply to other labour employers in the country and use the lack of regulation as an excuse. However, going forward, these workers can speak with one voice, which will be louder than individual grumbles.
We have seen how Uber has had to keep evolving in the face of regulations and laws in the US as well as workers demands. Lawsuits are not the only way for workers to get their way, although it has often proved effective.
On the other hand, ride-hailing companies operating in Nigeria will be in their rights to start fretting over the AUATWN. There is a reason why big tech like Apple and Amazon keep trying to prevent their workers from unionising.
In truth, it could potentially lead to increased labor costs, disruptions in production, and difficulties in decision-making and management. Additionally, some companies may view unions as a threat to their autonomy and ability to adapt to changing market conditions. Some management also may not agree with the union’s demands or their ways of negotiations. They may also believe that unions could negatively impact company morale and may create conflicts between management and labor.
We will have to wait and see how the Nigerian e-hailing services trade union turns out in the next couple of months.
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