We will not be Uber-ed

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BENIDORM TAXI drivers joined in a national strike last Tuesday to protest against a countrywide rise in unlicenced operators.

According to government officials in Madrid, 6000 marched in the capital on Tuesday to demonstrate against app-based transportation services.

There were also strikes in most large cities: Barcelona was without taxis for 24 hours and Madrid for 12 hours.

In Benidorm, the local taxis downed wheels from 12.00pm until 2.00pm across the urban areas of the city.

The protesters have one main demand, which pertains to a rule that only one license be granted to on-demand ride service vehicles for every 30 taxi licenses.

The current ratio is 64,763 taxicab licenses for 5,865 alternative livery vehicle licenses.

In Madrid, there were no taxis in sight early Tuesday morning. By 8.30am, taxi drivers were congregating outside the central Atocha train station in preparation for the noon march.

“Legal taxis are united across Spain. We oppose Uber and Cabify, which are toying with the bread-and-butter of over 100,000 families,” said Antonio Gil, a taxi driver from Barcelona speaking to the press.

At noon, thousands of taxi drivers from Bilbao, Málaga, the Balearic Islands, Barcelona, Benidorm, and even France and Belgium began a two-hour march from Atocha to the Fountain of Neptune in the Spanish capital.

There were moments of tension when the march reached its destination and six representatives handed their list of grievances to Congress.

Some demonstrators hurled eggs, cans and plastic containers at the police, who had cordoned off the building. No serious incidents were reported, but there were four arrests.

The government said it will increase inspections. “The taxi sector has to be defended; we need to find a way to increase oversight in order to have greater assurances that the legal framework is being observed,” said Public Works Minister Íñigo de la Serna on Tuesday.

In Madrid, taxi drivers looking to retire are running ads offering their licenses for anywhere between €150,000 and €170,000. The ads for chauffeured vehicles offer licenses for around €40,000.

With the surge in app-based ride services, the price of these licenses is starting to go down, and this directly affects taxi drivers – self-employed workers who rely on the sale of their license as a retirement fund.

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