Key questions this article answers:

  1. Ride-hailing drivers have increasingly resorted to joining unions to make demands on the companies. What is the attraction, and how do unions help?

  2. How will the newly licensed union for ride-hailing drivers protect and advance their members' interests?

Throughout Nigeria’s history, organised labour and trade unions have been important in advocating for workers' rights.

Matthew Tawo Mbu, who at the age of 23 served between 1953 and 1954 as Federal Minister of Labour—Nigeria’s youngest Federal Minister, recounts a notable figure in his autobiography “Dignity of Service”. He recalls being termed the “Baby Minister” by Michael Imoudu, the first Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) president. Michael Imoudu was a fierce labour leader who was prominent in driving the 45-day strike in 1945 as the then president of the Railway Workers Union. As a result, the colonial government accepted workers' demands for an increased cost of living allowance.

Almost 50 years later, during the early years of the fourth republic, Adams Oshiomole, another labour leader from Edo State, would also give the Obasanjo government a hard time.

Recently, labour unions have been targeting an unlikely sector—tech. I say unlikely because tech does not readily come to mind when you hear “union”.

Transport Network Companies (TNCs or ride-hailing platforms for this article) in Nigeria are experiencing a strong wave of unionism, propped up by the recent license granted to the Amalgamated Union of App-based Transport Workers of Nigeria (AUATWON).