Taxi drivers meet with authorities to find strike solution

Minister warns compromise is only possible if "blackmail" stops and Mobile World Congress is not affected

Taxi drivers protesting in front of the Territory ministry (by Miquel Codolar, ACN)
Taxi drivers protesting in front of the Territory ministry (by Miquel Codolar, ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

January 22, 2019 06:59 PM

Representatives of Barcelona's striking taxi drivers sat down for an urgent meeting on Tuesday evening with Catalan officials, including territory minister Damià Calvet, in an attempt to find a solution to a situation that has seen widespread protests in the city.

The Catalan government offered to set the call time for ride-sharing services to a 1-hour-minimum advance, thus overriding previous plans to set it at 15 minutes and ceding ground to taxi drivers.

Cab drivers will decide in a mass meeting on Wednesday morning whether to accept the Catalan government offer.

Representatives from ride-hailing companies conceded their defeat to taxi drivers after hearing the Catalan government's new plans. "They've won. We're leaving Barcelona."

Earlier, Calvet had warned that any compromise depended on cab drivers reaching consensus with ride-hailing employees, an end to "blackmail," and guarantees that the upcoming Mobile World Congress would not be negatively affected.

As the spokesman for the Élite Taxi union, Alberto 'Tito' Álvarez, arrived for the meeting around 4pm, hundreds of cab drivers wearing yellow hi-visibility vests had gathered outside the Ministry of Territory and Sustainability where the meeting was taking place.

The strike and protests by cab drivers began after the Catalan government proposed a regulation forcing the users of ride-hailing services like Cabify and Uber to book their rides 15 minutes in advance. The taxi drivers are demanding a longer booking period.

The conflict has caused a major headache for the Catalan authorities, with protesting cab drivers blocking major city roads with their vehicles, while some drivers have clashed with the police, and some even resorting to violent tactics.

Meanwhile, ride-hailing drivers also reject the government's proposed regulation, and have also protested by blocking city roads in the past few days. Following the meeting with the taxi drivers' representatives, Calvet was due to meet with ride-hailing representatives.