Cab drivers protesting all over EU against Uber
Taxi strike versus Uber in Madrid
Taxi and car-sharing applications like Uber have become a great convenience for commuters across the EU because they cut waiting time. However, traditional cab drivers are outraged with the app, which they are accusing of ruining their business.
On Wednesday, cab associations staged simultaneous strikes in Berlin, Rome, Paris, Madrid and London, causing massive traffic jams and leaving many passengers stranded. The main complaint of the drivers is that apps like Uber do not play fair. Private drivers who use these apps usually:
- fail to comply with local licensing rules
- do not pay taxes
Berlin Taxi Association Chairman Richard Leipold commented ‘Everyone should play by the same rules. You can’t have competition between someone who pays all their taxes and someone who doesn’t.’ France’s Taxi G7 Chief Executive Serge Metz added ‘Uber is deliberately not respecting regulations and on top of that has significant financial means.’
For the traditional taxi unions, Uber and other apps offering similar services are considered ‘illegal’ services for bypassing costly requirements that traditional taxis are subject to.
Taxis blocking a highway in Paris
In response to the unfavourable reception by cab drivers, Uber has tried extending their services to legitimate taxis in London through the UberTAXI app. However, this is considered a grey area for most taxi unions.
Many EU cities have also barred apps like Uber from operating in their areas. In Catalonia, Spain, drivers found to be using Uber will be fined €6,000 while Uber was barred from entering Brussels’ market. In some cities that originally protested against the app like Berlin and Paris, Uber continues to flourish.
Vice President of the European Commission Nellie Kroes however responded to the strikes by saying that the right solution must be found: ‘We need to work with tech not against it, it’s not the enemy.’
Cab drivers in front of the Olympic Stadium in Berlin
Uber, a start-up launched in 2009 and based in California, is now valued at €12 billion and operates in 100 cities across 36 countries.