Today’s taxi driver protest is getting out of hand. According to the police, 2,800 taxi drivers are protesting today against UberPOP, the European equivalent of UberX (as UberX in France is Uber in the U.S.). With UberPOP, everybody can become an Uber driver — taxi drivers see the service as unfair competition as they have to get a special license. Yet, this doesn’t really explain why cabbies are now attacking Uber drivers, burning and breaking their cars.
The police have already arrested a taxi driver and an Uber driver. The cabbie was throwing projectiles toward the police, while the latter was attacking a cabbie. It is currently very difficult to go to Charles-De-Gaulle and Orly airports as taxi drivers are blocking the roads. Taxis are also controlling many parts of Paris, looking for Uber drivers.
There are other protests happening right now in Nice, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lyon and Lille. It’s the biggest protest so far against the urban transportation company in France as UberPOP has been expanding to new French cities.
UberPOP is the most controversial part of Uber in Europe, and many countries are trying to ban the service. It was banned in Brussels, the Netherlands and, yes, France.
But in many cases, Uber didn’t take its drivers off the road. After UberPOP’s launch, most taxi drivers were mainly raging against the new service. That’s why it is now on the brink of illegality or already illegal, depending on who you ask.
You can still easily order an UberPOP in the company’s app. The police have been issuing fines in Paris, but when an UberPOP driver gets fined, Uber pays.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve already issued a statement, saying that he asked Paris police chief to issue a decree making UberPOP illegal (once again). But he also said that only a court order can make the Uber app illegal in France.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that he would hold a meeting with taxi union representatives tomorrow. All the unions declined the offer, saying that they don’t want to talk to the Government anymore.
“Uber firmly condemns the recent acts of violence against Uber partners and their cars, perpetrated today in Paris and in other French cities; whatever the anger, violence is never acceptable. Uber wishes to underline the fact that no French court of justice has declared uberPOP illegal,” an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch.
As I am based in Paris, I am now heading to the protest and will update this post with pictures and quotes from the protesters.