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Friday, June 26, 2015

French Taxis Go to War with Uber, “Hold Clients Hostage”: French Government Surrenders Immediately

Cabbies smash cars, block roads, attack Uber drivers

Yesterday, French taxi drivers declared war on Uber. The Verge reported,

French taxi drivers today blocked roads to airports and train stations in Paris, as part of a nationwide protest against Uber. Thousands of drivers are expected to participate in today’s strike in the French capital and other major cities, where tensions between taxi unions and private car services are running high.

Protestors burned tires and turned over cars along major thoroughfares, and there have been reported scuffles between taxi drivers and other chauffeurs. Police in riot gear intervened at one point with tear gas, Reuters reports. … 

There have been reports today of taxi drivers seeking out and harassing Uber employees near Paris’ major airports and along major highways, with the blockade forcing some to walk with their luggage to Charles de Gaulle.

The strike also appears to have ensnared Courtney Love Cobain, who tweeted a photo from inside a car, saying it was attacked by protesters on her way from the airport. In subsequent tweets, the musician said protesters took her driver “hostage,” forcing her to pay someone to take her away by motorcycle.

Today’s strike follows a series of altercations between taxi drivers and Uber chauffeurs across France. A 26-year-old man in Lyon said he was attacked Saturday night after telling a taxi driver he would use Uber, because the driver was on strike and refused to take him.

In Strasbourg last week, taxi drivers reportedly posed as Uber customers and led drivers to isolated locations to assault them. French taxi syndicates also staged a major protest against Uber last year, which quickly turned violent.

The head of the French taxi service G7 said, “We are truly sorry to have to hold clients and drivers hostage. We’re not doing this lightly.”

Techcrunch reports:

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. …

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.

The French government immediately capitulated to the rioting cabbies:

Following today’s protest, France’s interior minister ordered the Paris police to implement a ban on UberPop in the capital.

“I have given instructions, considering the grave problems with public order and the development of this illegal activity, to the police prefecture in Paris to ban UberPop activities,” Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters.

A sad day for people who need a safe, cheap way to get where they’re going. 

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