French cabs to block Paris roads in Uber taxi war
Parisian taxi drivers have vowed to block roads leading into the French capital on Monday to protest a court's refusal to ban urban ridesharing service UberPOP.
Like their counterparts in large cities across the globe, Parisian taxi drivers are fed up with what they see as unfair competition from Uber's popular smartphone taxi service.
UberPOP, which uses non-professional drivers using their own cars to take on passengers at budget rates, has 160,000 users in France, according to the company.
A commercial court in Paris ruled on Friday that a new law making it harder for Uber drivers to solicit business could not be enforced until the government had published full details of the restrictions.
"It's the straw that breaks the camel's back," said Ibrahima Sylla, president of France Taxis, whose organisation has joined several others in calling for the early morning protest on Monday.
They have urged taxi drivers to gather at the northern Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport and the southern Orly airport at 05:00 am before slowly converging on the city in a bid to block arterial highways.
"This is a fight against Uber. We're fed up. Allowing UberPOP means leaving 57,000 French taxis high and dry, and thus 57,000 families. And that is out of the question," said Sylla.
The Federation of Independent Parisian Taxis for their part wrote on Facebook: "It is about saying no to injustice, no to illegal work."
San Francisco-based Uber is giving the US and European taxi industries a run for their money by hooking up drivers and passengers through a cellphone application.
The company founded in 2009 is worth a whopping $40 billion (32 billion euros) and says it operates in 250 cities in 50 countries.
However it is battling lawsuits in a string of countries for unfair competition and rising anger over drivers who are not properly vetted and beholden to no one.
New Delhi last week banned Uber from operating in the Indian capital after a passenger accused one of its drivers of rape.
Thailand, the Netherlands and Spain have ruled it illegal and Denmark and Norway have filed complaints against the company. Brussels also announced Friday it plans to file a complaint.
The company argued in France that banning its service violates the practice of free enterprise and the principle of equality.
© 2014 AFP