The taxi strike, which started in Barcelona, has spread across the country causing chaos and even reaching the city of Granada.
The reason for the strike is the spread of VTCs; in other words, Uber and Cabify, for example.
There has been high-profile media coverage of violent acts, including one where a group of taxi drivers attack a Cabify car with a Dutch family inside; the father managed to get out of the car, shouting that there were children inside.
The national Spokesperson for the taxi union deplored this act and condemned such violence.
The chaos in Barcelona was total, coinciding as it did with the Iberia cabin-crew strike. Public transport was stretched to breaking point. Then the strike spread to Madrid…
Columns of taxis driving slowly, occupying entire lanes on road arteries, completed the strangle hold.
So, what does the taxi union want? Firstly, that the law that stipulates that there can only be one VTC licence for every regular taxi licence be upheld, which is clearly not the case. This court sentence from the Supreme Court ratified this limitation a mere month ago.
But the taxi drivers want more; that the administrative competence for maintaining this ratio be handed over to regional authorities, and even Town Halls, where it can monitored more closely.
It all started in 2009 when the Ley 25/2009, popularly known as the Omnibus Law, opened up the sector to international companies like Cabify and Uber. Subsequently, thousands of VTC licences were issued, and even though a new law rolled back the granting of VTC licences to a ration of 1:30, those licences that had already been granted could not be revoked – laws are not retroactive.
Then came February this year and the Barcelona taxi sector threatened the City Council with strike action during the Mobile World Congress. The Mayor managed to avoid this with the promise that she would demand an ‘extra’ licence from the VTC applicants. However, the Central Government stepped in and quashed this saying that the Council did not have that kind of authority – only the State could do this, which was when the smelly stuff hit the fan…
Which brings us to the very weak Central Government under the socialists and Pedro Sánchez. The socialists need the parliamentary backing of Podemos to get anything through Parliament… and Podemos are completely behind the taxi sector, so it is more than likely that the Ministry of Transport will cede the issuing of this VTC licence to a regional and even a municipal level.
Another demand is that VTCs should not be permitted to do urban taxi services; i.e., local displacement within a municipality.
So, let’s take Granada, where there are 560 taxis, where the City Council and local taxi union have agreed on a minimum service of 20%, which includes taxis on duty at hospitals and one for people with mobility problems.
Whatever happens, there are going to be many Cabify/Uber law suits flying around, demanding compensation, if the taxi sector does get its way.