Drivers Union Threaten Protest over Bolt and Uber Labeling of their Drivers as Independent Contractors and Not Employees.


The Amalgamated Union of App-based Transport Workers of Nigeria (AUATWON) has threatened to embark on a million-man protest.

This decision resulted from Bolt and Uber’s intent to revoke driver’s licenses. The AUATWON, which was established sometime this year, is a union that represents all ride-hailing drivers in Nigeria. The aim is to address the issues concerning earnings and commissions charged by the app, which has caused friction between ride-hailing apps and drivers.

Uber and  Bolt have both written to the Ministry of LAbour requesting the revoking of the AUATWON certificate. According to them, the union members are not employed by the companies, so its legality is questionable. Drivers are dissatisfied with their earnings as both companies charge a commission rate of 20% and have argued that this negatively affects their profits. 

Comrade Ibrahim Ayoade, the union’s Secretary General, reported that a million-man protest would be scheduled against Bolt and Uber. Though both companies have admitted to having sent a letter to the Ministry of  Labour, they have, however, insisted that it does not close them out to dialogue as they wish to correct the claim that “drivers are employees, not independent contractors.” 

This distinction is the prominent bone of contention, as Independent contractors are not allowed to form unions or negotiate. Uber and Bolt are reported to have argued in UK and US courts that their drivers are independent contractors and not employees. Other lawsuits against Uber are recorded in South Africa and Kenya, with drivers contesting the status ascribed to them by the company.

Although the Trade Unions Act grants AUATWON the right to participate in the negotiations about drivers’ working conditions, the Letter sent by Uber and Bolt may offset that right. Legal practitioners have said that if the request is granted to AUATWON, the companies can do nothing about it. Instead, both parties should adopt a dialogue to resolve their issues rather than threatening a license revoking. 


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