The National Road Transport Union of Nigeria has almost 2 million members, the majority of which are informal workers. Taxi, bus and truck drivers usually own or rent their vehicles and hire them out for service. The ITF has been working with the union to look at ways in which to strengthen the feeling of collectiveness amongst the membership.
NURTW members currently pay union fees on a daily basis because the union owns the licence to operate. In return, the drivers receive certain benefits including: insurance, access to moto-parks, security and soft loans. With app based ride hailing companies on the rise, it is important that the union is able to retain its members against the threat from competition such as Uber who could offer workers similar services, although it is not clear what arrangement these companies have with the Nigerian Government regarding operating licences.
Since the workers are informal, it is important to organise around common issues and since they do not share a common employer (rather they are their own employers, or in some circumstances such as the bus operation in the capital Abuja, the union itself is the employer, owning and running the bus company) the issue must be something that the local, or national government can resolve, for example the issue of improving the quality of the roads, or the parking places.
Demonstrating the power of collective activity through union membership will help these independent workers see the benefit of their collective strength and membership to NURTW being linked to worker power effecting change. The ITF has been conducting Train the Trainer Workshops for the union’s shop stewards exploring the difference between recruitment and organising and how to win worker led campaigns.