Taxi strike continues after detention of nine drivers
Arrests due to public order offenses as protest against Uber regulation still blocks avenue in city center
The police arrested at least nine taxi drivers in Barcelona on Friday evening for public disorders after attacks against Uber and Cabify cars in the city center, as the protest continued on iits second day on Saturday.
The drivers were still occupying Barcelona's Gran Via road on Saturday morning as their "indefinite" strike against ridesharing companies went on.
Yet on Friday evening their protests were not entirely peaceful, as they attacked cars from ridesharing platforms. The Catalan police and Barcelona's local law enforcement intervened in several of those attacks, and made the arrests. One driver from one of the ridesharing companies suffered a panic attack during the incidents. His car was severely destroyed.
Against government regulation on ridesharing firms
Taxi drivers began an indefinite strike on Friday against a new Catalan government regulation on ridesharing firms that they don't agree with.
The Catalan cabinet proposes obliging firms such as Uber and Cabify to only accept services hired at least 15 minutes before.
We urge authorities to restore public order and protect the general interests of the city, especially its image
Gabriel Jené · Business association president
Taxi drivers wanted these services to be hired at least six hours before, while ridesharing company sources said on Friday that measures like this one will mean their "end" in Catalonia and accused the government of falling into the "blackmail" of the taxi sector.
The talks between taxi drivers and the Catalan government resumed on Saturday evening, while 300 vehicles of ridesharing companies were rallying in Diagonal Avenue, Barcelona, to also demand taking part in the negotiations.
Protests "damage image" of Barcelona
Business associations warned that a new taxi strike will affected an already "damaged image" of Barcelona.
"It's a very important time for us, as it's a sales weekend," said Barcelona Oberta business association president Gabriel Jené.
"We urge authorities to restore public order and protect the general interests of the city, especially its image," he added.
The Catalan minister in charge of mobility, Damià Calved, said in a press conference that the proposed regulation is "proportional" and allows for both VTC cars and traditional taxis to coexist in a time of evolution towards a more "digitalized world."