A strike leaves Barcelona El Prat Airport temporarily without taxis

Taxi drivers have protested against the new car shifts implemented as of last week. The new shift system affects all Barcelona taxis and it has been designed to reduce the number of cars on the streets in order to increase drivers’ profits by reducing the available taxis at a given time. However, some taxi drivers think the new shifts cause their turnover to drop. For this reason they have decided to protest by not serving Barcelona El Prat Airport or Barcelona Sants Station with cabs on Monday afternoon. The Metropolitan Taxi Institute, in charge of managing the sector, has already announced “talks” with taxi union representatives to “evaluate” the new system.


January 7, 2013 11:52 PM

El Prat del Llobregat (ACN).- On Monday afternoon and through part of the evening, there were no taxis available at Barcelona El Prat Airport or Barcelona Sants Station. Taxi drivers were protesting against the new car shifts implemented as of last week in order to increase the driver’s profits by reducing the available taxis at a given time. However, the reform – which affects all the Barcelona cabs – seems to have provoked the opposite result, as some taxi drivers are lamenting. Since some believe their turnover has dropped because of the new shifts, they have decided to protest and go on an apparently spontaneous strike. The Metropolitan Taxi Institute, in charge of managing the sector, has already announced “talks” to “evaluate” the new system and to eventually fine-tune it. The reform had been adopted because there were too many empty taxis in circulation across Barcelona, due to the drop in demand down to the economic recession.

As of last week, Barcelona taxis have a label marked T1, T2 or T3 on their door. This indicates if they belong to shift 1, 2 or 3 separating the Barcelona taxi fleet into different shifts. The measure aims to reduce the number of taxis in circulation on the streets at specific times of the day or the week, when demand is particularly low. The principle guiding this new shift policy is that by reducing the number of taxis on offer, the number of potential clients for those operating will increase and so will their turnover. Over the week, since the shifts are designed to be compensated, taxi drivers will reduce costs by circulating for fewer hours without passengers. However, some taxi drivers are protesting and state they would prefer to drive for longer hours, despite the cost increase, and see their turnover grow.

José María Sánchez, a member of the taxi union STAC, stated that the new shifts “are not effective”. However he admitted “it had to be tested”, although he did not support it from the start. Sánchez stated that the shift measures “do not work” because at this time in January the activity levels are low in Barcelona, “there is little business now”, he said. According to him, the new time schedule is “too strict” and “is not convenient as the sector is used to more freedom of time”.

For this reason, a group of taxi drivers has decided to block the access of taxis to Terminals 1 and 2 of Barcelona El Prat Airport as from 12pm today. With this protest they have left Barcelona Airport without any taxis for the passengers arriving. Furthermore, after lunch time they repeated the blocking measure at Barcelona Sants Station. This evening they were not denying that they would repeat the protest tomorrow.

Talks to “evaluate” the new system

However, Sánchez explained that some members of the STAC have met with the managers of the Metropolitan Taxi Institute (IMT), which fixes the sector regulations, and they have asked them to “cancel” the new shift in order to study the reform’s effectiveness. Sánchez stated that the Metropolitan assembly running the IMT will “very likely” cancel the new taxi shifts, at least temporarily. Sources from the IMT stated that this week an “official” meeting with the unions will be organised in order to evaluate the impact of the new shift system. In fact, the meeting had already been scheduled for the 15th of January, two weeks after the measure’s kick-off. It seems the meeting has been moved to earlier in the schedule due to the sector’s protests.