Taxi strike over Uber and Cabify causes disruption and delays in the rain

A deserted rank in Malaga.
A deserted rank in Malaga. / S.S.
  • Drivers are calling for tighter regulation of so-called VTCs and more industrial action, while government takes steps to address their concerns

Getting around the Costa del Sol on Wednesday was made harder not only by the rain but also by a part-stoppage of the area's taxis.

Worst affected was Malaga city, where around half of drivers stopped work as part of nationwide protests against, what they say, is unfair competition from new minicab companies like Uber and Cabify.

Drivers and their union say that these new-generation firms, where passengers arrange a lift via mobile phone apps, cause unfair competition by offering much lower fares. They also claim that some new drivers flout the rules by touting for business in the streets, which only taxi drivers are allowed to do.

In Malaga it was only at the airport that there was anything like normal service. Elsewhere, at key points, taxi ranks were quiet and passengers left to wait. The first heavy rain in months added to the demand. Telephone operators for the taxi drivers said that at times thirty people were on hold waiting to get through.

At Malaga's main María Zambrano station, passengers arriving had to wait a long time. “I've come from Cordoba for an interview at the PTA technology park and I don't know if I'm going to make it in time,” explained Elena Varo, who had been waiting for fifteen minutes. Soon afterwards a taxi drew up and she went on her way.

Mass rally in Madrid

While half the fleet of taxis stayed at home, some 200 drivers from the area headed to Madrid to take part in a large demonstration near the national parliament in protest at the increase in activity of the start-up transport companies like Uber and Cabify (which in Spain are described as VTCs - vehículo de transporte con conductor).

Central government attempts to limit the amount of VTC licences to one per every 30 taxis and appease the taxi sector have been overturned recently by the Supreme Court. However, the government has said it will keep its promise to taxi drivers to insist that there is a register of all VTC activity, to check they are following the rules, and ban new VTC licences being resold within two years of issue.

Taxi drivers, who typically pay a lot more for licences than VTC drivers on the secondary market, want to go further by, for example, insisting that VTC journeys need to be booked two hours in advance and that drivers meet the same licensing requirements as taxis.

An indefinite taxi strike from this Tuesday is being discussed.