Tempers flared in Paris yesterday as striking taxi drivers blocked major roads and set fire to tires on a “black Tuesday”, with simultaneous strikes by air-traffic controllers, public servants, hospital workers and teachers.
The major force behind the strike was the cab drivers, with around 1,200 protesting deteriorating working conditions and what they see as unfair alternative competition from services like Uber.
In the case of taxi drivers, the protest is the second time in the past six months that drivers have taken to the streets to express their frustration with Uber and other ride-sharing services.
Thousands of taxi drivers across the country – who are also seeking compensation for their loss of market share – are expected to observe the strike.
That being said, Uber still plans on appealing the $1.3 million fine, while trying to get the European Union to reject the French transport law, altogether, as reported by the Journal. Acknowledging the other protests, the notice issued this instruction: “Favor train transportation”.
With taxi drivers in western Paris blocking traffic, burning tires and throwing smoke bombs, riot police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.
On Wednesday, Paris police warned drivers to avoid several main roads, notably roads that lead to Orly and Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle worldwide airports.
Uber drivers “vandalize professionals who are paying taxes, who respect the rules“, said Rachid Boudjema, 37, president of the taxi drivers’ union in Marseille.
“We have received reports of isolated intimidation and harassment of our partner-drivers at the Oval – a commercial building complex – in Nairobi’s Westlands”, Uber Africa’s spokesperson, Samantha Allenberg, said in a message sent to partner-drivers.
Taxi drivers are planning large-scale protests aimed at shutting down Uber, including one demonstration that’s threatening to disrupt the NBA All-Star weekend in February. He went on to say Uber and others “want to destroy our system, the system we are all attached to”.
The strike also affected schools, with the education ministry saying more than 12 percent of primary teachers had joined over demands for higher pay, as well as 22 percent of high school teachers who are protesting against the reform of education for pupils aged between 11 and 15.