Barcelona mayor hits out at Catalan government over taxi strike
Ada Colau accuses minister of "lighting a fire" in the sector as president calls emergency meeting to discuss conflict
The violent episodes and clashes with police during the ongoing protests by Barcelona's striking taxi drivers on Monday provoked harsh words from major figures in the spheres of politics and business.
Mayor Ada Colau accused territory minister Damià Calvet of "lighting a fire" in the taxi sector for proposing a change in regulations that she said "was known would be controversial."
Colau called on the minister to make a new "sensible and reasonable" proposal so as to find a solution to the crisis "between today and tomorrow."
Taxi drivers started an indefinite strike at the weekend, blocking city roads and some resorting to intimidatory tactics, after rejecting proposals to regulate ridesharing services like Uber and Cabify.
Minister calls for dialogue
Minister Calvet responded to events on Monday by calling on the taxi drivers and ridesharing employees to engage in dialogue "without blackmail, without protests, without blocking public roads and without violence."
Protesting drivers clashed with the police in the port and near Parliament on Monday, with at least six people injured, including police officers, while several ridesharing vehicles were vandalized by protestors.
Emergency government meeting
A meeting between Calvet, president Quim Torra and interior minister Miquel Buch was called for Monday evening to discuss how to tackle the fractious situation, in particular the widespread protests by both sides.
The left-wing Catalunya en Comú responded to the conflict by calling on the government to "listen to the demands of the taxi drivers" and to work for a "fair" economy without the "unfair" competition of multinational companies.
The pro-independence ERC party called on the government and the Barcelona city council to work together to resolve the conflict as doing so "without talking and without coordination and without mutual understanding will be difficult."
Protest "disproportionate," says business group
Meanwhile, the Cecot business association on Monday called the reaction of taxi drivers to the proposed regulation "disproportionate" and expressed its concern about the "negative impact" the conflict was causing on the Catalan economy.