Paris taxis set to block traffic in Uber protests

Bertrand Guay, AFP | Archive image show taxi drivers taking part in an action to block road traffic heading toward Paris in 2008.

Taxi drivers were planning to block the main roadways into Paris on Monday after a court rejected a bid to ban the amateur car service UberPop, while the minicab company continued to battle lawsuits in several other countries.


Three taxi groups in Paris have called on members to take part in a collective action to disrupt traffic in the city starting on Monday morning to protest what they call illegal competition from the giant web-based taxi company.

Roadways connecting the French capital to Charles De Gaulle Airport and Paris Orly Airport, as well as the western Porte de Saint-Cloud road junction, will be blocked by cabbies starting at 5am.

The move could be a headache for commuters starting one of the last work weeks before the holidays, as well as for travellers flying into or out of the city.

"Join us in large numbers to protect our jobs, the hour is at hand,” Ibrahim Sylla, the president of the Taxis de France association, said in a statement.

It is not the first time French cabbies have rallied against the rise of minicab services, particularly Uber, which uses advanced mobile applications to link passengers to private hire drivers.

The UberPop app goes a step further by using non-professional drivers with their own cars to take on passengers at budget rates.

French taxis participated in a European-wide strike - which included sector workers in the UK, Belgium, Spain and Germany – in June.

However, France’s main Taxi unions were not taking part in Monday’s effort to block Paris roadways. Although the unions maintain that Uber is “an illegal service that should be banned”, it said in a statement that Monday’s action had been poorly planned.

Series of challenges

While Uber appears to have solidly established itself in France, and UberPop appears to have been given a green light, the company has run into roadblocks elsewhere, even in its home state of California.

A Dutch court on December 8 ruled that the UberPop service violates current taxi laws, as had been charged by the country’s ministry of transportation.

On the same day, the city government in New Delhi banned Uber from operating in the Indian capital after a passenger accused one of its drivers of rape.

A day later, a judge in Spain also banned Uber's ride-sharing service, saying it violated laws on fair competition.

Thailand has also ruled Uber illegal, and the service has hit regulatory hurdles in locations from Germany to San Francisco, where a driver has been charged in an accident leading to the death of a six-year-old girl.

Last week, San Francisco and Los Angeles officials sued Uber for misleading consumers about fees and background checks.

"Uber continues to put consumers at risk by misleading the public about the background checks of its drivers and its unwillingness to ensure that correct fares are charged," Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey said.

Authorities in Denmark and Norway have also filed complaints against Uber.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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