This may not be the best of times for owners of O’pay Motorcycle Company, the new alternative commercial motorcycle transport in Lagos- in place of the ubiquitous Okada. The difference between O’pay and the conventional Okada is that there are guiding rules and regulations for O’pay. While O’pay riders are careful and operate a corporate system, the conventional Okada is its usual rough and dirty form.
However, the company is facing some storm with its employees-the riders.
The motorcycle riders, who embarked on a warning strike action, October 28, alleged inhumane treatment meted out to them by their employers and the ACCOMORAN (motorcycle Union body) members who are treating them like animals.
The grievances against the company includes N2,000 remittance fee demanded by the company’s account daily after which they still have to subscribe for data services, maintain the motorcycle, call the customers assigned to them by the company with their money and update to the latest version of the App every two weeks.
But their annoyance is that the money the company charges is too high to cover all these bills as the fuel they burn to cover the long distance has even taken the bulk of the little money the company gives them.
A rider, Mudasiru Kehinde, told New Telegraph that, “the company is short-changing us as the money the company pays us is too low and we are still made to pay a huge N2,000 to them on daily basis as remittance fee. From the little money we make, we buy petrol, maintain the motorcycle, subscribe for data services, and call credit to contact the customers and the company pays us very little.”
Kehinde explained that from Ikeja to Ikorodu, the company pays them N200, “from Ikeja to Ajah, they give us a miserly N500. How much is this money? It is so ridiculous,” he said.
Another rider, Folorunsho Ahmed, said his grievances is that the company lacks consistency and they appear dubious, because the company brought in local Okada riders to join them and the motorcycle Union saw this as an opportunity to extort money from them. “Since they joined the local riders with us, we have to pay for tickets at every local government Bus stops to these Union officials and the sad thing is that one can’t use a ticket for the whole of Lagos State as you have to pay for different tickets across all the Local Government Bus stops you pass by, and how much are we paid? And these Union officials beat us mercilessly before forcing us to pay for the tickets. So, we complained about this to our company and they told us it’s our business; that we should resolve it amongst ourselves and later we were promised that they will refund the tickets money we paid but up till now, we haven’t been paid a dime and the situation hasn’t changed.”
Another rider who pleaded anonymity said the company lied to them in the case of the health insurance promised them in the agreement form. He said it is yet to be met and there is no provision for vacation or leave.
“Anytime anyone is sick or is being faced by an unexpected situation and can’t avoid not coming to work, he will still have to pay for all the times he missed. The O’pay Company lacks human feelings; they are only concerned about the profit, not sensitive towards the welfare of the riders,” he said.
The strike, which actually started on Monday, October 28, is set to last until the company meets up to their demands. The riders also complained about the seed of dis-unionism the company is planting amongst them, as the company allegedly blocked the WhatsApp platform created for the riders where they air opinions and come together to solve their problems.
Mr. Abubakar Saliu, another rider, while speaking to New Telegraph, lamented on the low welfare package of the company. He mentioned the case of a sick man who was bedridden for two weeks due to appendicitis complications and he was told to pay up the whole remittal fee of the days he was absent at work.
“In case a rider is sick, he will still have to repay the remittals for the days he missed, as these people only care for the profits they make and not about the welfare of the riders. When a rider is involved in an accident, the company will only come to pick up the motorcycle and leave the rider to his problem, without thinking of how to help the rider and to inquire about his well being. After recovery, you still have to pay for all the times you missed and inability to pay up will end you up in the police net. The equipment being sold to us is very expensive compared to what is being sold outside. For example, the head net sold to us for N1,000 is sold outside for N700. So we are tired of these entire tyrannical acts and that is why we will continue this strike until our demands are met. All efforts to get reaction from the company proved abortive.
Lack of organisation was written all over the company-not coordinated at all. When New Telegraph visited, it observed that the company had many Human Resources managers (HR) but none seemed confident enough to represent the company, speak to New Telegraph and address the situation as fear of responsibility was the order of the day, making the “numerous HRs” to be shifting the task to one another. After hours of being pushed around by the HRs, a seemingly qualified HR who is in charge of media and publicity offered to address the situation and asked for questions which were sent to him via email.
But up till the time the story was filed, there was no response from him neither did he pick his calls.