The Amalgamated Union of App-based Transport Workers of Nigeria, which represents drivers on the platforms of e-hailing companies such as Uber and Bolt, has announced a nationwide strike which began today (Wednesday).
Following the increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as fuel, drivers complained about the minimal fare increase implemented by ride-hailing transportation providers.
According to a union’s statement, the app-based enterprises increased their commission by 25 to 30%, falling short of the union’s demand for a 200 percent boost and a 50% drop in commission.
The drivers, who stated that they could no longer operate under these conditions, stated that they had previously requested that the companies cut their commissions on the grounds that they did not represent industry benchmark commissions.
The statement reads : “The union’s technical team is versed with the operation and technicality of ride-hailing companies and on our calculations, any app company can breakeven charging below five per cent even though the union recommended a flat commission of 10 per cent or 50 per cent off their current commission during our last meeting, as we believe this will help us to cope with maintenance costs, spare parts and various overhead cost and the current fuel increase.
“We can no longer tolerate any act of dictatorial practices by any app company because we are workers and as an organised union, we have written several letters to these companies for a round table discussion where we can look at various areas of concern and dialogue but they have remained adamant with a deliberate intention to avoid responsibility.
“So, as a result of this insensitivity, the union is directing all its members across the nation to shut down their service on all ride-hailing applications from Wednesday, June 7, 2023, in protest against every dictatorial practice and lack of concern for welfare and security of App-Based Transport workers of Nigeria”.
The union in Calabar, Cross River State, complained, among other things, that the “all-in-one” mobility app company had brought “modern day slavery” to Calabar, as the capital city has remained one of the most negatively affected locations in terms of driving and earning compared to other places where the company operates.
Chairman of the Taskforce committee and Treasurer of the Amalgamated Union of App-Based Transport Workers of Nigeria (AUATWON), Cross River State Chapter, Engr. Mike Neji, called what the mobility app firm is doing to drivers as unjust.
He said “Due to the increase in the price of fuel, we can no longer meet up, we want them to increase the fare to at least 1000 as a baseline, they should reduce the commission they get from the drivers because they are collecting about 35 per cent commission currently when you add other components of the charges they deduct.
“We are being charged for a lot of things, fuel has increased, engine oil has increased, car maintenance generally has increased, yet they are adding only 100 or thereabout to the fare which is not in any way commensurate.
“They are robbing us mercilessly, because at the end of the day is like we are working for them, in fact it’s modern slavery. From 189 and 205 we are now buying fuel for 510, yet your base is 700 from 600 which is only 100 naira, how do you think we can ever meet up?
“The Driver is not safe, the app is not well created, they need to have information on the riders we carry, they collect our cars, kill some of us, and they don’t have data of their riders, this must be upgraded.
“It is high time other stakeholders in the mobility app market come into Calabar, we need alternatives because we are supposed to be partners but the relationship we have with the company is like Masters’ servant relationship.
He further stated that the strike which took effect in Calabar, is expected to be nationwide.
“The strike is nationwide, if after 72hours we don’t hear anything from them, we will intensify efforts to make them leave Nigeria Market for good, as we speak, they are in 25 states and Calabar is one of the worst cities if not the worst in terms of fares” he stated.
He further lamented that his counterparts in other states of the federation, earn better than drivers in Calabar.
“Drivers in places like Ebonyi, Benue earn more than us here in Calabar, they should at least let the baseline be like 1000 naira, do you know that they double tax us, in-app calls are even charged, connecting charges and so on, the matter must be well looked into, we are not slaves” he added.