Taxi strike targeting Uber brings chaos to Spanish cities

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Parked taxis block a section of Paseo de la Castellana, one of Madrid’s main avenues, during a strike against what they say is unfair competition from ride-hailing and car-sharing services such as Uber and Cabify in Madrid, Spain, July 30, 2018. Image: Reuters

MADRID

Spanish taxi drivers blocked major city streets including Barcelona’s Gran Via and Madrid’s Castellana yesterday in a protest to pressure the government to curb licenses to online ride-hailing services such as Uber.

Union representatives were due to meet officials of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s government to try to resolve the dispute, in which taxi drivers have choked main roads and snarled airports, bus and train stations since Saturday.

Along with counterparts in many other European countries, Spain’s taxi drivers say that ride-hailing apps have made it impossible to compete.

“Uber and Cabify are putting the viability of the taxi sector and 130,000 jobs at risk…The union considers this unfair competition intolerable,” the UGT union said in a statement.

Union representatives say the current law of one ride-hailing license for every 30 taxi licenses is not being respected and want an end to the practice of transferring ride-hailing permits between drivers.

With backers including Goldman Sachs and BlackRock and valued at more than US$70 billion, Uber has faced protests, bans and restrictions around the world as it challenges traditional taxi operators, angering some unions.

London cab drivers are examining the possibility of bringing a class action suit against Uber after the mobile app was granted a temporary license renewal to operate in the British capital.

Reuters