Latin America, Europe cab drivers team up against Uber

Uber protest

American taxi driver protest. Portland, January, 2015. [Aaron Parecki/Flickr]

Taxi driver associations from Latin America and Europe teamed up in their campaigns against Uber and Cabify, following sometimes violent protests over the ride-booking apps.

Daniel Medina, of the Organized Taxi Drivers of Mexico City, announced an “international front against the illegal operations of these global companies such as Uber that put the taxi sector at risk.”

Medina said taxi groups from Brazil, France and Spain were joining forces.

In a teleconference from Madrid, the leader of the Elite Taxi organization, Miguel Chacon, said drivers from the Spanish capital would protest in front of the Mexican embassy on July 29 in support of their Mexican peers.

>>Read: Uber lobbyists take on EU critics

“Uber came to our country and completely destroyed our social economy,” Chacon said.

But Medina and Chacon did not give more details about what actions the associations might take.

Taxi drivers have held protests in Mexico, Brazil and Colombia as well as Europe. In Paris, a demonstration turned violent last month.

In Latin America, Uber drivers or their cars have been physically attacked or threatened by taxi drivers.

>>Read: Uber chief: ‘Uber and Europe is definitely a conversation worth having’

Taxi unions argue that Uber represents unfair competition because its drivers do not face the same license fees and other taxes, allowing them to charge much less for rides.

Uber suspended its UberPOP service in France on Friday, six months after it was banned.

Uber, the world's most valuable venture-backed start-up, with a valuation of $40 billion, is facing increasing legal challenges across Europe, where local taxi drivers have taken to both the streets and courts to fight it.

It has been criticised worldwide over how it pays drivers, charges passengers and ensures their safety. Taxi companies argue it competes unfairly because it does not have to pay their steep license fees and bypasses local laws.

To date, Uber has been hit by court injunctions in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain.

Uber has already filed two complaints against a French law it says favors regular taxi companies at its expense.

Regulation of taxi services is the competence of member states, the European Commission said, but it would assess the complaints in light of the principles of proportionality, non-discrimination and freedom of establishment.

>> Read: Uber files complaints against German and Spanish bans

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