Expatica news

French driving instructors protest against licence reform

   PARIS, March 14, 2008 – Thousands of driver-training workers blocked
traffic across main French cities Thursday in a national day of action against
driving-licence reforms.
   Instructors are protesting against possible changes to the system under an
ongoing government review which they say will restrict their earnings.
   According to organisers, some 5,000 vehicles tailing back two kilometres
(1.25 miles) caused jams in Paris, although police said the figure was 1,100.
   Hundreds of vehicles organised lesser demonstrations in large cities such
as Lyon and Bordeaux, with support also coming from truckers in Marseille.
   "Our profession is in danger. The government wants to teach the highway
code in schools and wants to cut the minimum number of (driving-instructor)
hours required before sitting the test," said Georges Tassara, an instructors
union representative.
   "The cost of obtaining a driving licence, around 1,200 euros (1,875
dollars) is not excessively high compared to northern European countries,"
said Jean-Louis Bouscaren, head of an instructors union.
   Patrick Ohaya, president of a driving school federation, called on the
government to increase the number of test inspectors, cutting down waiting
times for repeat applicants.
   Federation members are also calling for reduced fuel taxes.
   Last month, thousands of taxis had staged a similar protest against
deregulation of their profession.