Ride hailing drivers under Uber and Bolt end their strike today. It has not produced a major win but it has brought more meetings. How long patience do the drivers have ? 

Today, ride-hailing drivers under the Amalgamated Union of App-based Transport Workers of Nigeria (AUATWON) are considering another strike. AUATWON’s members went on strike on June 7 and made a list of demands to ride-hailing companies. Among those demands is that the companies should increase base fares for passengers. While Bolt, Uber and LagRide have raised base fares, the drivers say the new prices still do not cover their running costs. 

The National treasurer for the Union, Comrade Jolaiya Moses, told TechCabal, “The app companies have not done anything as regards what we asked them for. We are supposed to embark on an indefinite strike if nothing is done about it.”

Two other AUATWON sources also told TechCabal this morning that as the ultimatum ends, the best they have gotten is a commitment between the ministry and labor and ride-hailing companies to meet and engage drivers. But that meeting has now been postponed till next week. “Now, that meeting has been postponed till next week Monday, the result of the meeting will determine our next line of action,” Chairman of the media and publicity committee of the Union, Comrade Jossy Olawale said in a call with TechCabal, this morning.

Understanding drivers demands 

Drivers and the ride-hailing companies they work for have been at odds in the last two years. Rising inflation in Nigeria, a lack of benefits to drivers, and constant price cuts by companies to attract customers have made driving barely profitable. In response, the drivers have asked the companies to reduce their 20% commission. They also asked ride-hailing companies to increase fares by a minimum of 200% and an end to the deactivation of drivers who refuse to work due to the low fares and attendant unprofitability. The union is also seeking the recognition of AUATWON as the representative body for their interests. 

The National treasurer for the Union, Comrade Jolaiya Moses, summarises it perfectly, “Drivers can’t cope with the current pricing; we are selling below the cost price. The best way to increase drivers profit will be to reduce the exorbitant commission imposed on drivers by application companies.”

The drivers are right to be worried. As meetings get postponed and ride-hailing companies stonewall the union, the general sense is that any sort of progress will be slow. Ultimately, the decision on another strike will be made soon. Until then, the struggle continues.

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