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TAXI

Now Barcelona taxis go on strike too

Dozens of taxis in Barcelona started an indefinite strike on Friday, blocking a major thoroughfare in protest against online ride-hailing services like Uber.

Now Barcelona taxis go on strike too
Taxis block the Gran Via in Barcelona on Friday. Photo: AFP

The mobilisation comes ahead of a similar work stoppage due to kick off on Monday in Madrid just two days before the Fitur international tourism fair, one of the world's largest, kicks off in the Spanish capital.   

“From now, us taxis will go on strike indefinitely in the Gran Via,” a street that crosses Barcelona, federation Elite Taxi said in a statement.   

On Friday afternoon, dozens of cars were blocking the street that had already been occupied over the summer by taxis in another protest that then spread to other cities.

The strike follows new regulations unveiled Friday by the regional government of Catalonia that force clients to book VTCs (Tourism Vehicles with Chauffeur) like Uber or Cabify at least 15 minutes before the actual time they are needed.

Taxis though argue that VTCs are not a taxi service by law and should therefore be booked 12 to 24 hours ahead of time.   

“We want them to differentiate both services and the only way to do so is via pre-booking,” Luis Berbel, head of the Taxi Union of Catalonia, told AFP.   

“Fifteen minutes is nothing, it's an insult to the sector.”

READ ALSO: Madrid taxis will go on strike AGAIN on Monday

ENVIRONMENT

Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?

Around 10,000 people demonstrated against the expansion of the El Prat airport in Barcelona on Sunday.

Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?
People march during a demonstration against the expansion of the Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo: Pau BARRENA / AFP

Several ecological and agricultural organisations, have demanded that the expansion be stopped due to the fact nearby wetlands and farms would have to be destroyed.

The demonstration took place on Calle Tarragona in the Catalan capital between Plaça d’Espanya and Plaça dels Països Catalans.

The protests still took place, even though last week, Spain suspended the €1.7 billion airport expansion project, citing differences with the Catalan government, after president Pere Aragonès said he wanted to avoid destroying La Ricarda lagoon, a natural reserve next to the airport. 

Environmentalists decided not to call off the march, in case plans for the airport expansion still went ahead.

READ ALSO: Six things you need to know about Barcelona airport’s €1.7 billion planned expansion

Political representatives from ERC, En Comú Podem and the CUP also attended, as well as the leader of Más País, Íñigo Errejón; the Deputy Mayor for Ecology of the Barcelona City Council, Janet Sanz, and the Mayor of El Prat de Llobregat, Lluís Mijoler.

People from neighbourhoods across the city marched towards Calle Tarragona and could be seen holding placards that read Nature yes, airport no and shouting slogans such as “More courgettes and fewer planes” and “Fighting for the climate, health, and life”. 

One of the largest groups of people were those from El Prat de Llobregat, the municipality which is home to the airport, who were led by tractors. 

People march during a demonstration against the expansion of Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP

In addition to protesting against the expansion of the El Prat airport, people were also demonstrating against the Winter Olympic Games in the Pyrenees and extensions to airports in Mallorca and Madrid. 

A representative of Zeroport, Sara Mingorría said “We are here to defend not only La Ricarda, but the entire Delta”. 

The philosopher Marina Garcés also argued that the expansion of the airport would mean “more borders, more mass tourism, more control and more precarious jobs.” 

The leader of the commons in the Catalan parliament, Jéssica Albiach, who also attended the protest, asked the PSOE for “coherence”: “You cannot be passing a law against climate change and, at the same time, defend the interests of Aena [the airport operations company]”, she said. 

She also urged the leader of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, to “definitely say no. 

If the airport expansion in Barcelona goes ahead, environmentalists say that CO2 emissions would rise by a minimum of 33 percent. These levels would surpass the limits set by the Catalan government’s climate targets.

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