Bolt Nigeria insists its drivers are independent contractors, not employees

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December 12, 2023
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2 min read
Bolt app
  • Bolt Nigeria has clarified the “dispute” with the Amalgamated Union of App-based Transporters of Nigeria (AUATON) after the ride-hailing company joined a new union in August 2023. 
  • Explaining the situation, Bolt’s Senior Public Policy Manager for West Africa, North Africa, and Central Africa, Weyinmi Aghadiuno, said that the drivers are independent contractors, not workers or employees, as the union suggested preceding their formal registration as a trade union.
  • Thus, the company explained that there was no dispute as it was never against the formation of AUATON but only tried to clarify its relationship with drivers.

Formerly the Amalgamated Union of App-based Transport Workers of Nigeria (AUATWON), in August 2023, the union changed its name to the Amalgamated Union of App-based Transporters of Nigeria (AUATON) following the issuance of its trade union certificate. 

Consequently, AUATON covers all gig workers engaged in the transportation industry, a shift from AUATWON, which had a narrower focus and included all transporters.

Every registered worker’s union with the Nigeria Ministry of Labour reserves the power to negotiate and sign agreements for its members, underscoring an employer-employee relationship. This power is called collective bargaining. 

However, Aghadiuno maintains that AUATON has no such power since the union is not a worker’s union, the drivers are not employees, and Bolt is not their employer.  

While it’s unclear how the union or the drivers will receive Bolt’s position, the company is not open to increasing the fare anytime soon as they fear that excessively high prices will discourage passengers — who are equally affected by fuel prices — from using the platform. 

For obvious reasons, Bolt and its drivers view this matter from different perspectives. Bolt has to be responsible for the drivers and passengers because the platform will collapse without either. Whereas the drivers only have to look out for themselves. 

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, June 7, 2023, the e-hailing union went on strike to demand a 200% increase in base fare and a 50% reduction in the commission charged by the companies they work for (Bolt Uber, InDrive). 

Shortly before the strike, on Friday, June 2, 2023, Bolt announced that it had increased its base fare in some Nigerian cities, but the drivers were not impressed. 

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