The taxi drivers of Madrid have joined this Monday to those of Barcelona, who have been unemployed since Friday, in the protests so that the Administrations limit the activity of the transport vehicles with driver (the VTC licenses that use Uber and Cabify) before the next elections in May. Wearing yellow vests, a symbol of social protests in France, taxi drivers hold indefinite strikes and threaten to block cities. The regional authorities avoid facing a sector in the war and pass the hot potato to the municipalities.
In Madrid the strike that began on Monday puts at risk the success of the Fitur tourism fair, which will be held from Wednesday to Sunday in the fairground of Ifema, near the airport. In Barcelona, the protests continue for another week and also threaten to collapse the Mobile World Congress. It is about the two biggest business events in both capitals. The conflict of the taxi takes shape again, four months after the municipal and regional elections, after launching its first big pulse last July, when thousands of taxi drivers blocked for a week the main arteries of both capitals.
The sector, which for years has lived protected by a regulated system, now turns against the appearance of the new digital transport platforms, whose use extends throughout the world. The protests of the taxi drivers in Madrid and Barcelona are just one more example of the digital transformation of the economy.
The taxi drivers resorted to the last symbol that has ignited in Europe against globalization to try to internationalize the conflict: the yellow vests of France. These were born in Paris to protest against the rise of fuels approved by Macron.
For taxi drivers in Madrid, unemployment during Fitur is a considerable loss in one of the most active weeks of the year (according to industry sources enter at least 20% more than the usual 171 euros a day in a working day), but many they calculate that they will win by sacrificing a week's income to achieve a legal victory that limits the rights of the VTC.
The president of the Community, Angel Garrido (PP) did not convince them on Monday with their proposed law that would cede key competences to the municipalities of the region. "It's a joke," said Santiago Simon, the secretary of the Professional Taxi Federation of Madrid, one of five associations that met with the regional president.
No government wants to confront the sector four months after the elections. In September, Fomento has already transferred the hot potato to communities and municipalities. Now it is the autonomies that pass the ball to the mayors. And taxi drivers are now pressing before there are political changes that make it difficult to meet their demands.
Garrido said Monday that his proposal could resolve the conflict in a matter of weeks. He asked the taxi drivers to give up to deactivate a conflict with major damages: "(The strike) harms the image of Madrid, harms the image of Spain but above all it hurts them who are workers." The regional president will meet Tuesday with the representatives of the VTC sector.
Taxi drivers want the Community to oblige by law to contract a VTC with a time in advance of at least six hours, to differentiate the service provided by the taxis of the rival platforms Uber or Cabify. Although taxi drivers also use digital platforms similar to these, like Mytaxi. The taxi drivers are not sure that the mayor of Madrid, Manuela Carmena, akin to the demands of taxi drivers, can arrive on time to regulate this issue before the May election. The City Council has already begun in December the preparation of an ordinance that regulates certain aspects of the VTC on which it is competent, such as parking, schedules or environmental protection.
The pre-contract, key
In Barcelona, taxi drivers raised their tone on Monday in their fourth day of protest. Blocked the Gran Vía, one of the main arteries of the city. The demonstrators broke a police cordon and received some load of the Mossos d'Esquadra, left a Civil Guard agent and several injured Mossos. During the tour also punctured the wheels and attacked several cars with VTC license. In the afternoon, in a meeting, the taxi drivers announced new actions and threatened to block the border with France to "internationalize the conflict" along with the group of yellow vests.
The reason for all the discontent is the decree proposal presented by the Government last Friday, and that unleashed the taxi drivers' strike. With the conflict entrenched, and with VTC drivers concentrated on Avenida Diagonal in protest of the same decree, the Minister of Territory and Sustainability, Damià Calvet, admitted on Monday that "we will have to listen more to all parties" and that the Approval calendar of the Catalan standard will have to be delayed.
Catalonia is the first community that has started preparing a decree to regulate VTC licenses
Catalonia is the first community that has started preparing a decree to regulate VTC licenses after the Government, through a Royal Decree approved in September, transferred the powers to the communities. That rule gave companies a term of four years to continue operating in the cities, at the end of which the current licenses - valid for the entire national area - will lose their right to carry out urban journeys if the municipalities decide.
The proposal of the Catalan decree includes the obligation that, to contract the services of a VTC car, it is necessary to do it 15 minutes in advance. This margin, which is intended to curb Uber or Cabify, is according to taxi drivers "a joke," and claim that they are "hours" in advance.
Calvet explained that this Tuesday will move its decree proposal to the Government. In this proposal will include a nuance that already exposed to taxi drivers on Saturday, although it did not serve to call off the strike. This consists of enabling the City Councils and the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (AMB) so that they can extend the period of advance according to environmental, territorial and duration criteria. This has unleashed a clash between the metropolitan entity and the Generalitat.