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Taxi protest enters third day

Warnings of disruption in Paris, Toulouse and Marseille as drivers ramp up demonstrations against VTC firms

THE NATIONAL taxi drivers dispute is continuing into a third day, with disruption expected across the country, notably in Paris, Toulouse, and Marseille.

Hundreds of drivers blocked Porte Maillot, a major interchange to the west of the capital, for a second night as they ramped up their protests against what they see as unfair competition from private hire drivers (VTC - voitures de tourisme avec chauffeur).

Police have advised motorists to avoid these areas and warned those heading for the city's airports to expect disruption in the vicinity of Roissy and Orly. Meanwhile, drivers are reportedly planning protests in Rungis (Val-de-Marne), while an early-morning rally in Rocquencourt (Yvelines), has already caused serious disruption on the A13 between Vaucresson (Yvelines) and Saint-Cloud (Hauts-de-Seine).

In Marseille, drivers spent a second night in the Place de Castellane. Several demonstrations are planned for today, especially near the airport, La Provence reports.

Taxi drivers are also blockading the airport in Toulouse, where the T2 tram service has been disrupted.

Taxi drivers are continuing their protest against increased competition from firms such as Uber – despite reports that the app-based private hire service was yesterday ordered to pay €1.2m to rival taxi group UNT after a complaint that drivers were breaking the rules.

French news agency AFP said that the court ruled that Uber drivers were being encouraged to unlawfully collect fares waiting in the street – which their licence does not allow them to do.

The UNT claimed Uber France was being "ambiguous" in its communications with drivers about the rules for private hire cars, which under French law are supposed to return to their garages after each fare, rather than park or circulate on public roads.

Uber denied the charges.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said he would appoint a mediator to try to resolve the dispute, but striking taxi drivers have refused to enter negotiations, Le Parisien reports.

The protests have occasionally descended into violence, with protesters in Paris starting fires on the périphérique.

Pourquoi les taxis bloquent Paris et ses aéroports par leparisien

But the very firms that the taxi drivers are protesting against appear to be profiting from the disruption.

The number of new clients downloading of apps for firms like Uber and Chauffeur Privé have jumped during the protests, BFM TV has said.

Chauffeur Privé founder Yann Hascoet said: “In just one day during the strike between 10,000 and 15,000 clients discovered the service and signed up to the web platform. It’s remarkable,”

Photo: Le Parisien / screengrab

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