Skip to main content

French taxi drivers lock down Paris in huge anti-Uber protest

French taxi drivers lock down Paris in huge anti-Uber protest

/

Nationwide strike comes amid disputes over the legality of UberPop

Share this story

French taxi drivers today blocked roads to airports and train stations in Paris, as part of a nationwide protest against Uber. Thousands of drivers are expected to participate in today's strike in the French capital and other major cities, where tensions between taxi unions and private car services are running high. Protestors burned tires and turned over cars along major thoroughfares, and there have been reported scuffles between taxi drivers and other chauffeurs. Police in riot gear intervened at one point with tear gas, Reuters reports.

French taxi unions have long held grievances against Uber, and the company's UberPop service, in particular, which relies on a network of non-professional drivers. They argue that enlisting amateur chauffeurs who don't have to pay steep licensing fees gives the San Francisco-based company an unfair competitive advantage. A one-time taxi license fee in France can cost up to €240,000 ($270,000). A representative from the FTI taxi union tells Bloomberg that revenues for French taxi drivers have fallen by between 30 and 40 percent over the past two years, due to increased competition from Uber and other ride-hailing services.

Following today's protest, France's interior minister ordered the Paris police to implement a ban on UberPop in the capital. "I have given instructions, considering the grave problems with public order and the development of this illegal activity, to the police prefecture in Paris to ban UberPop activities," Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters.

In France, UberPop has been operating in a murky legal space since the beginning of this year, when a new law requiring all chauffeurs to carry licenses and insurance went into effect. French officials have said the service will be illegal under the law, but courts have allowed it to continue pending a ruling on its legality from a constitutional court. The constitutional court began considering the case on Tuesday.

"We are truly sorry to have to hold clients and drivers hostage."

"We are faced with permanent provocation (from Uber) to which there can only be one response: total firmness in the systematic seizure of offending vehicles," Serge Metz, the head of the taxi company G7, said on French television. "We are truly sorry to have to hold clients and drivers hostage. We're not doing this lightly."

There have been reports today of taxi drivers seeking out and harassing Uber employees near Paris' major airports and along major highways, with the blockade forcing some to walk with their luggage to Charles de Gaulle. The strike also appears to have ensnared Courtney Love Cobain, who tweeted a photo from inside a car, saying it was attacked by protesters on her way from the airport. In subsequent tweets, the musician said protesters took her driver "hostage," forcing her to pay someone to take her away by motorcycle.

Today's strike follows a series of altercations between taxi drivers and Uber chauffeurs across France. A 26-year-old man in Lyon said he was attacked Saturday night after telling a taxi driver he would use Uber, because the driver was on strike and refused to take him. In Strasbourg last week, taxi drivers reportedly posed as Uber customers and led drivers to isolated locations to assault them. French taxi syndicates also staged a major protest against Uber last year, which quickly turned violent.

Uber has faced regulatory hurdles and protests across the globe, largely over its insistence that it should be regulated as a technology company rather than a transportation service. French business daily Les Echos today reported that Uber France has in recent weeks begun encouraging licensed professional drivers to begin using UberPop, in an apparent move to appease regulators. In a statement to the paper, the head of Uber France denied that the change is a pre-emptive move to keep UberPop within the law, though the company has capitulated to regulators in Germany, where it agreed to pay commercial license fees amid an ongoing legal dispute.

A spokesperson from Uber France called the Les Echoes report "accurate" while also noting that "this doesn't mean that we're dropping POP, quite the contrary." The spokesperson also condemned the violence against Uber partners today and called the attacking taxi drivers a small (2,800 out of 55,000 "honest taxis") group of "thugs."

Update 7:45 AM ET: This article has been updated to include the statement from the French interior minister and a tweet from Courtney Love Cobain.

Update 12:10 PM ET: This article has been updated to include comments from Uber.


Vox Video: The economics of becoming an amateur chauffeur

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 24 Striking out

E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


A
Youtube
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


A
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.


A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
J
Twitter
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.


T
Twitter
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.


A
External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.


A
External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.