Madrid taxis join Barcelona strike against Uber

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Taxi drivers in Madrid went on strike Saturday in solidarity with Barcelona cabbies protesting against “unfair competition” from Uber and Cabify.

The federation of Madrid taxis claimed all 15,000 drivers in the capital had joined the movement and that it would spread to other cities.

“All taxis have spontaneously and progressively stopped work, paralysing services in the capital, at the airport, around bus and railway stations”, federation secretary Santiago Simon Vicente told AFP.

“The main problem is the proliferation of VTC licences,” he said.

“There are more and more of them, thousands, and it’s unfair competition.”

The federation called on the authorities to enforce legislation under which there should be 30 traditional taxis for every VTC (tourism vehicle with chauffeur).

Today there are only five for every VTC, said Santiago Simon Vicente.

Taxi drivers cut access to central Barcelona on Friday after the Spanish government appealed a ruling approved by Barcelona authorities that limited the number of licences for Uber-style services.

“Today everything is blocked in Barcelona, the airport, the stations, etc,” the head of Taxis Companys, Luis Lopez, told AFP.

Violence erupted in Barcelona where the strike began on Wednesday. Drivers threw stones at the vehicles of Uber-style licensed private chauffeurs, with some ending up with flat tyres.

The attacks prompted Uber and Cabify to suspend their services in Barcelona for as long as the taxi strike lasts.

Unauto, which represents Uber and Cabify, on Saturday urged the Spanish government to “take back control of the streets saying “violent” taxi drivers were trying to defend a monopoly.