The taxi drivers' strike that began at the weekend in the city of Malaga and has left locals and tourists without their usual service in several towns on the Costa del Sol is set to continue at least until Wednesday.
Strikers voted at an assembly on Tuesday to continue their action until they know the outcome of a meeting planned on Wednesday in Seville between representatives of the sector and the regional minister for Public Works and Transport, Felipe López.
The unexpected strike began in the early hours of Sunday morning when drivers protested against companies such as Cabify, which offer private driver services, operating at Malaga fairground.
Later on Sunday the action spread to the airport where tourists were forced to seek alternative means of transport in order to reach their destination, and some, who arrived after the last bus and train services departed, had to spend the night at the terminal.
On Sunday night taxi associations in towns along the western Costa del Sol voted to support the strike with partial stoppages, although drivers in Torremolinos and Benalmádena adopted the same action as their colleagues in the city, leaving only 20 per cent of the fleet on the roads at any one time.
Some taxi drivers picking up passengers on the Costa refused to take them to the airport to avoid incidents, instead limiting their journeys to their own towns and leaving tourists at their nearest station so they could complete their journey by train.
By Monday lunchtime the waiting time at the airport taxi rank was between 15 and 20 minutes with the reduced service in operation.
The around 400 protesting Malaga drivers who had gathered with their cars at the airport on Monday were joined by colleagues from Barcelona, Valencia, Granada, Cordoba and Madrid. At around 2pm the vehicles formed two convoys and headed for the city centre, disrupting traffic along two different routes.
With last weekend marking the beginning of Feria week in Malaga, the timing of the strike could not have been worse.
The strike has not been an entirely peaceful process. On Sunday evening outbreaks of violence occurred at Malaga airport’s terminal 3, where a group of taxi drivers assaulted a driver who picked up paying passengers despite the strike. It is still unclear whether the victim of this attack was working under a private driving organisation or whether he was a so-called ‘taxi pirate’, operating without a licence.
According to government figures, there are currently 436 drivers operating through transport networks working with VTC licences (for the rental of a vehicle with a private driver) in the province of Malaga. The Cabify network had brought in extra drivers for the Malaga fair, which is what sparked the strike action on Saturday night.
The taxi drivers are calling for the Junta de Andalucía to introduce greater controls to ensure that VTC drivers do not exceed 20 per cent of services, as stipulated by law, and only pick up passengers who have ordered a cab in advance.