The Strategist

Taxi Rallies in Paris Are Dragging On

01/27/2016 - 14:20

Yesterday in France, several trade unions took to the roads to protest and called for strikes. Rally of air traffic controllers was followed by halt for 20% of flights, taxi drivers blocked airports and railway stations. "Black Tuesday" was displaced by "Black Wednesday".

Rédacteur Tibet
Rédacteur Tibet
French teachers and students, representatives of the social protection, aircraft dispatchers and taxi drivers went on rallies yesterday. In the eastern part of the country, farmers showed up with tractors.

Traffic in Paris was not paralyzed despite of hopes of taxi drivers, who mobilized more than 2 thousand cars to protest. Still, they did not succeed. Lack of a taxi was compensated by public transport. Meanwhile, local television introduced the event in Paris in a dramatic light.

Two cases required intervention of the police. A Uber’s driver Uber, surrounded by taxi drivers at the airport and trying to break out of the ring, knocked one of them and broke his leg. The driver was arrested.

Another incident occurred in the northern part of the Paris ring road. Taxi drivers and other ruffians that join them tried to barricade the road, burned tires and threw stones at cars in the tunnel. Police used tear gas to disperse them in half an hour and arrested 22 people, 14 of whom are in custody now.

The Government has invited the strikers to negotiate. The unions’ representatives met with taxi drivers, Premier Manuel Valls and several ministers.

Socialist MP Laurent Grandguillaume, appointed the government representative, stated that he "calls for dialogue" through the round tables and in-depth discussion of the situation.

Head of the National Federation of Independent taxi drivers Ahmed Senbel said expects specific solutions from the government. Taxi drivers require effective assistance that was promised to them after June’s rallies.

Their situation got really complicated the last year. Earnings of taxi drivers has decreased from 20% to even 40%. Obliged to undergo an expensive training and pay for the license worth € 165 th., Independent taxi drivers feel that they are facing unfair competition. They are demanding a ban not only for Uber, which is thriving at the moment, but also access for individual drivers to passengers. The law, which prohibits unlicensed cabbing, was adopted in 2014, but, obviously, has not entered into force de facto.

Yesterday in the National Assembly, a Republican MP Bernard Debré sharply criticized the government for being too soft on strikes and demonstrations. "The French have witnessed the street riots: and it is in times of emergency - said he.- In what country do we live?" In response, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that the current state of emergency does not involve prohibition of rallies. He also added that when the taxi drivers went beyond the law, the police stopped them.

Tuesday evening, departures from Paris leading to the main airports remained blocked, and adjacent main streets were cordoned off by the police. However, movement in these areas was generally normal even then, as public transport used streets nearby.

Taxi drivers spent the night in their cars and do not seem to intend to disband, ignoring an appeal of the Paris police prefect.

The French themselves have quite relaxed attitude to the rallies. Taxi drivers are blamed not for creating problems for officials, but for the fact that they make lives of ordinary Paris residents difficult. The government in turn faces accusations that the state does not perform duties of an arbitrator in the dispute, clearly oppose one citizen to another, and tries to gain time.