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Spain's taxi drivers strike over Uber and Cabify

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Spain's taxi drivers strike over Uber and Cabify
Taxi drivers take action. Photo: AFP
11:07 CEST+02:00
Taxi drivers across Spain are on strike today in protest against “unfair competition” from new car sharing companies such as Uber and Cabify.

Taxi lanes at airports and train stations across the nation were empty on Tuesday and travellers were forced to seek alternative transportation, such as public buses.

Many of course, turned to the car-sharing apps that have made taxi drivers so angry.

In Madrid, the strike was scheduled to last 12 hours starting at 6am until 6pm, while in Barcelona, drivers called a 24 hour stopover with plans to drive to the capital to join a midday protest.

Valencia taxi drivers called a two-hour strike.

The taxi strike is the second this year and comes after repeated attempts by Spain to ban car sharing apps Cabify and Uber.

After action was brought against Uber by traditional taxi drivers, a judge ruled in 2014 that its UberPop service risked breaking the lawand it ceased operating in Spain.

But early last year it decided to operate in Spain only a limited a version of its UberX service which uses licensed, professional drivers instead of amateurs.

READ ALSO: Welcome back! Uber service returns to Spain

The company does not employ drivers or own vehicles, but instead uses private contractors with their own cars, allowing them to run their own businesses.

Licensed taxis must undergo hundreds of hours of training and they accuse Uber of endangering their jobs by using cheaper drivers who only need a GPS to get around.

But in a move hailed as positive by the traditional taxi drivers, an EU lawyer recently called for ride-hailing apps to be regulated in the same way as ordinary taxi firms.

"The Uber electronic platform, whilst innovative, falls within the field of transport," Advocate General Maciej Szpunar said in a statement from the European Court of Justice. 

"Uber can thus be required to obtain the necessary licences and authorisations under national law," he said.

READ MORE: 'Uber must get licenses as ordinary taxi firm'

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