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Barcelona Taxi Drivers Strike

Source: El Pais El Pais - Wed 2th Jul 2014
Barcelona Taxi Drivers Strike

A 24-hour taxi strike is underway today in Barcelona, in protest against applications such as Uber, which allows smartphone users to use their terminals to locate drivers who provide a taxi-style service, despite not having a license. A new association, La Élite, and the labor union CNT, called the stoppage and a demonstration that is due to take place on Tuesday morning in Plaza de Catalunya. The lack of taxis in service was evident at El Prat airport and at the rail station of Sants.

The Metropolitan Taxi Institute (IMT), which is in charge of managing all taxis in the Barcelona metropolitan area, confirmed on Tuesday morning that "practically all" of the city's taxis were observing the stoppage, and that it was very difficult "to find a taxi in Barcelona. The areas with the greatest demand for taxis, such as El Prat, Sants and the city's hospitals, had no service on offer at all.

The IMT said in a statement that taxi drivers are autonomous, and that "they will have to be the ones who guarantee minimum service levels" in the case of a strike. The IMT is also opposed to the Uber platform and claims that it "operates illegally." CNT has warned that Uber could see "thousands of taxi drivers lose their jobs, given that the supply of transport options could rise completely uncontrolled."

Another strike against new entrants in the sector saw Madrid and Barcelona without taxis on June 11. The regional government of Catalonia has called for the immediate cessation of the activities of Uber, and has announced fines of up to €6,000 for drivers who continue to earn money from the app. Barcelona is the only Spanish city so far in which Uber is operating.

The taxi sector claims that Uber is attacking a sector that has spent years battling with internal problems. The economic crisis has seen unions have to negotiate shift systems and controlled timetables to avoid empty taxis filling the streets.

Last month the Public Works Ministry sent out a reminder saying that persons or companies who transport passengers in exchange for payment need to secure the authorization of the administration, and could face fines if they fail to do so.

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