Spain taxi strike against Uber spreads

Spanish taxi drivers are blocking streets in major cities including Barcelona and Madrid, in a bid to pressure the government to curb licenses to online ride-hailing apps like Uber.
A sign on a cab announces that only minimal services will be provided amid a strike by taxi drivers outside the Atocha train station in Madrid on July 30, 2018.
A sign on a cab announces that only minimal services will be provided amid a strike by taxi drivers outside the Atocha train station in Madrid on July 30, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

BARCELONA (AFP) - Taxi drivers across Spain joined a strike on Monday (July 30) against ride hailing competitors such as Uber and Cabify which they say unfairly threaten their livelihoods.

The strike began in Barcelona last week and spread on Saturday to Madrid as drivers demanded action from the government, which is due to meet their representatives at midday.

Strikes or partial stoppages have been called in Valencia in eastern Spain, Zaragoza and Bilbao in the north, and Seville in the south.

The strike was sparked after the Spanish government appealed a ruling by the Barcelona authorities that limited the number of licences for Uber-style services.

Taxi driver federations want the authorities to strictly enforce the legislation under which there should be 30 traditional taxis for each VTC (Tourism Vehicle with Chauffeur).

Today, there are only five traditional taxis for every VTC, they say, warning that they will extend their action to blocking ports, airports and even the border with France if Madrid fails to act.

In Barcelona, Spain's biggest tourist attraction, hundreds of black and yellow taxis parked for a third day on the Gran Via, one of the city's main roads.

Some drivers camped out there, sleeping on mattresses on the ground, in tents or in their taxis.

VTC drivers have in turn criticised their traditional taxi peers, charging that they were attacked in Barcelona last week.

"We sincerely hope that the state does not give in to blackmail from violent people," said Unauto, the platform which represents Uber and Cabify.