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TRANSPORT

Taxi drivers throughout Spain strike in protest at new licenses for Uber, Cabify

The association representing private-hire vehicles has reported assaults against drivers and widespread damage to cars

The demonstration by taxi drivers in Madrid today. Ver fotogalería
The demonstration by taxi drivers in Madrid today. AFP

A taxi strike across Spain today has left many of the big cities without cabs. From the early hours of the morning the absence of these vehicles was noticeable in places such as Madrid and Barcelona. The strike was called to protest the new issuance of private hire licenses for use by drivers working for companies such as Uber and Cabify.

The Spanish Federation of Taxis (FEDETAXI), which represents 70% of taxis with licenses, said today that 100% of drivers were observing the stoppage in major cities. “There are no taxis operating in Madrid and Barcelona,” explained Miguel Ángel Leal, the president of FEDETAXI on Wednesday. “And in other cities the same thing started to happen from 11am, which is when the demonstration started.

Police clash with protestors in Madrid today.
Police clash with protestors in Madrid today.

On the streets of Madrid there were plenty of cabs to be seen, but without passengers and beeping their horns as a sign of protest. The demonstration in the Spanish capital left from Atocha train station at 11am, headed for the Congress of Deputies, Spain’s lower house of parliament. Passengers arriving today at the airport, and train and bus stations were finding that they were without the option of a cab.

Barcelona saw a similar situation, with a lack of taxis at stops outside the main train station and the airport.

For its part, the UNAUTO association, which represents the private hire sector, has today reported the vandalism of dozens of vehicles of this type in Madrid and Barcelona, as well as violent incidents and intimidation of drivers. The president of UNAUTO, Eduardo Martín, stated that since the early hours of the morning private hire vehicles have been subject to “considerable damage due to violent acts in the streets,” as well as a driver having to be taken to hospital in Barcelona, after being assaulted and left with a “bleeding head wound.”

Protestors on the streets of Madrid today .
Protestors on the streets of Madrid today . AFP

UNAUTO also reported its drivers finding nails on the floor of their garages, as well as paint on their vehicles, broken windows and burst tires.

For its part, global transport tech company Uber released a statement in which it said that the liberalization of the private-hire sector would facilitate a more sustainable transport model by drastically bringing down prices with the arrival of shared-car services, as is already happening in many other European companies.

It also criticized the “prejudices of the monopoly of the taxi, which costs €603 million a year and which means that all Spaniards pay an average of €5 more for our journeys.”

English version by Simon Hunter.