The taxi against Uber and Cabify: 'the infamous expropriation' in the face of the desire to 'work together' | Spanlish


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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The taxi against Uber and Cabify: 'the infamous expropriation' in the face of the desire to 'work together'

Indicative Taxi Madrid

The taxi sector is still up against Uber and Cabify. Today, the trade associations representing the more than 70,000 taxi drivers who work in Spain, join forces in a 24-hour strike called in most cities of the country and a massive demonstration in Madrid. If today you needed to travel by taxi, think of an alternative.

This break -which does not strike, in the case of self-employed workers or entrepreneurs- has started at 6 o'clock in the morning Spanish peninsular time and will continue until the same time tomorrow, Thursday, being called by the Spanish Taxi Federation, the National Taxi Association, the Elite Taxi Madrid Association and the TNT and Caracol platforms. Early in the morning several taxi drivers have cut the A6 road at the entrance to the capital, while it is expected to fill the center of Madrid with the march that has begun at 11 in front of the Atocha station and will end next to the Congress of the Deputies, in the fountain of Neptune. 20,000 attendees are expected.

Unemployment 24 hours in most Spanish cities and large demonstration in Madrid
The only careers that will be carried out, free of charge, will be what they call "minimum social services" . The taxis that provide them will be identified with a symbol and will only serve elderly or people with reduced mobility, as well as certain users of health centers.

This is a new chapter of the tug of war of taxi workers with administrations and especially with the Government. They take to the streets in one more day of protest by the activity of companies VTC that supposes, in his opinion, a "dismantling of the public service" that they offer. These days, especially, after the last legal setback received in the Supreme Court. A door open to the approval of thousands of new licenses .

From the calm of the taxi to 10,000 new VTC

A little over a month ago we said that the taxi won in Spain . The less, he emerged victorious from one of his main battles. The Government was moving the file , attending to its demands after months of protests - in May the last ones were highlighted - and expected to approve before 2018 in the Council of Ministers an antispeculation norm and control of the activity of the VTC.

The tranquility that these governmental intention offered to the sector, however, did not last long. The calm ended when in two sentences known two weeks ago the Supreme Court ratified 80 VTC licenses that had been denied by the Community of Madrid in 2009. The magistrates estimated the appeals submitted by two affected companies and finally granted licenses that were already operating through execution provisional.

In the coming months, thousands of new VTC licenses could be authorized through the courts
This decision of the Third Section of the Contentious-Administrative Chamber gave the green light to the ratification of other licenses requested at the same time, allowing that in the next months thousands of licenses could be granted that, at the moment, remained unemployed. According to the estimate calculated by José Andrés Diez, lawyer of Unauto VTC, the largest association in the VTC sector, authorizations could approach 10,000 . Although he says that they can not provide more precise numbers.

Why so many new licenses?

On September 27, 2009 came into force the Spanish law 25/2009, of December 22, 2009, known media and popularly as the omnibus law . A set of legislative changes aimed at the liberation of the services sector according to the European directive known as Bolkestein. In essence, the elimination of bureaucratic obstacles in the tertiary sector.

The taxi sector was included in this legislation and this led to the elimination of the VTC license limitation to 1 per 30 driver licenses existing until then. The door was open, almost completely, for rental vehicles with driver and the companies that operate with them, such as Uber or Cabify. It was not necessary to maintain this balance and the business, therefore, had a free way to operate without restrictions. The licenses were requested and granted.

Mercedes 2181385 1280

However, the situation changed again in 2013. After strong pressure from the taxi drivers' union, the PP government approved a modification of the previous law, of the Socialist Executive, trying to put an end to the numerous concessions that were taking place. It was an attempt to return to the previous situation, although the proportion of a VTC license for every thirty taxis was not approved until 2015, and there the legal loophole was found.

This circumstance has led the Supreme Court not to understand the return to that limit with the 2013 reform and, with these first two sentences, to draw a line . The settled jurisprudence will cause that the thousands of VTC licenses of that period that have been claimed by judicial means are, in all likelihood, ratified. Of the 10,000 that we spoke, some of them operate today thanks to provisional executions of sentences, but a large majority do not.

The position of taxi drivers

The general strike called by the main organizations seeks to make visible that "disguised liberalization" that, according to them, is taking place. For Miguel Ángel Leal, president of FEDETAXI-UNALT, the organization that leads the sector and the discontent, the situation that is experienced is "the infamous expropriation of our business and the delivery of the public taxi service to the multinationals" . Yesterday he said that it is a "dismantling of the public service" and a "flood of these vehicles [the VTC] in our cities."

Elite Taxi Madrid, another of the convening associations, expressed itself in other terms although in the same sense: they accuse the Government of being "responsible for favoring large multinationals to the detriment of the taxi". Likewise, they affirm that "the taxi can disappear" and that the Executive deceives them.

Taxi drivers consider lengthening the gap and stay in Madrid if they are not given a solution
On the other hand, the president of the National Taxi Association, Julio Sanz, yesterday issued a warning : if there is no solution, they do not rule out lengthening unemployment. A prolongation of the protests that could end up in a camping in the center of the capital as reported by El Español , collecting statements by Tito Álvarez, leader of the association Elite Taxi in Barcelona. "We will not leave Madrid while we do not have an answer," he explains to the newspaper.

Their demands, according to FEDETAXI-UNALT, focus on "compliance with current legislation on taxis and VTC", calling for the prosecution of infractions, and demanding "an exercise of responsibility of the public powers" to act offering a solution to "the disguised liberalization and judicial rulings of the VTC sector".

The posture of Uber, Cabify and rest of VTC

Faced with this atmosphere so heated, the sector of vehicles with driver seek for understanding and peace trying to build bridges with taxi drivers. Uber and Cabify have expressed themselves in separate statements, declining to make further statements, while Unauto VTC has spoken with Genbeta his lawyer, José Andrés Diez , responsible for the five judgments favorable to this type of license issued in the Supreme Court.

Ten regrets that the taxi sector seeks to assert its privileges "by distributing users as if they were their own", when "no sector owns" the citizen. The lawyer wants to dismantle the accusations of the taxi drivers in relation to the payment of taxes of some and others affirming that "what the population does not know is that a taxi pays 1/10 part of the taxes that a VTC pays ". "Who serves the interests of the population better from an economic point of view?" He asks.

Taxis of Madrid
The problem is that the taxi sector has not adapted to the 21st century by a lot of ecological vehicle or app they may have. There is not a business mentality, but a job, and they have self-limited their own regulations asking local governments for restrictions on their activity.
It also rejects accusations of infringement of the legislation , ensuring that "they do not pick up people on public roads unless they have been previously hired," and defends what happened in court: "The courts apply the existing legislation at all times, good, bad or regular taxi drivers knew since 2009 that this was going to happen. " Also, remember how different leaders of taxi drivers associations applied for thousands of VTC licenses .

Uber, for its part, again defends in its statement the liberalization of the VTC sector that facilitates a "change of model by reducing the price of transport drastically with the arrival of carpooling services", stating that "it is not a Such a breakthrough measure " and that, in fact," is the usual norm in most European countries and also in Spain not so long ago, between 2009 and 2015, when the European service directive was applied ".

They also remember their public denunciations regarding "the damages of the taxi monopoly", while continuing to reach out to taxi drivers . They believe that FEDETAXI's request for flexible rates and "the rapid adaptation of a large part of the taxi sector to technological changes" are steps forward. That is why, after the demonstration, they hope to "start working together to achieve the goal that all those involved, taxi, administrations and Uber share: changing the mobility model of our cities so that moving around Madrid, Barcelona or Málaga is more cheap, more comfortable and more sustainable ".

Uber and Cabify want to work together with taxi drivers maintaining a constructive dialogue

Uber application on a phone

Cabify, the other major challenger of this conflict, regrets that we are again "before a new episode of strike that hinders the normal development of our activity and that directly affects citizens and their right to choose between different alternatives to move through the city". They, as announced yesterday, will avoid operating in the most conflictive areas: demonstration environments and large airports or stations where pickets are concentrated.

They affirm that their business seeks that the citizens "may consider leaving their private vehicle at home" and supposes "a clear impulse to the local economy and employment and to the increase in demand for other transportation alternatives". "For our part," continues the statement sent to the media, "we will continue to open a constructive dialogue between all agents in the sector to create a fair scenario and define a formula for coexistence that benefits all parties."

The conflict will continue

At the present time, following the judgments of the High Court, the taxi world considers the measures prepared by Fomento insufficient and announced in October. After meeting with representatives of the administration last week, Leal, the president of FEDETAXI, indicated that "they have to go further in the face of the continuous breach of the law." Hence the mobilizations of today.

The conflict has been going on for more than three years and it does not look like it will end soon , even more so if the ratification of all the VTC licenses that are expected comes during the next months. The story will continue.

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