Ride-share apps in France call for driver strike

Drivers of VTC ride-sharing services such as Uber are being called to strike on March 6

Drivers in France for ride-sharing services such as Uber have been called to strike and log out of their apps by their national union, with plans for a protest in two weeks.

Union l'Intersyndicale Nationale VTC (INV) called on drivers to make a stand by logging out and refusing to work, and is planning to assemble in protest outside the Paris Uber headquarters on March 6.

Protests are also planned for local Uber offices across the capital.

Grievances include higher commissions taken by the parent company, no minimum payment on rides, and drivers being suspended if they refuse a trip repeatedly.

They are also unhappy with the presence of “fake drivers”, who are said to use stolen VTC cards to use the app fraudulently.

INV coordinator Brahmin Ben Ali said that the union represented all workers across several ride-sharing apps, including Uber, Kapten, and Marcel. He called for a “total shutdown of all these apps” on March 6, and repeated the calls for a minimum price on journeys.

He said: “This is a precarious profession; we need social protection.”

Uber in particular has been in conflict with its drivers in France for several months. Since mid-November, some drivers have blockaded logistics centres, including in Aubervilliers in Seine-Saint-Denis, and the main headquarters in Paris.

Drivers are especially unhappy with a recent procedural change, which can see them suspended from the app if they refuse a journey too many times, leaving them without access to work.


Employment laws

In France, the legal status of ride-sharing and “gig economy” platforms is controversial.

Earlier this month, food delivery service Deliveroo - which often uses bikes as delivery vehicles - was ordered to pay €30,000 for “defrauding the employment code”.

One of its workers also had their contract symbolically changed from a service contract to an employment contract - a first in France.

Deliveroo said it would appeal the decision, and said: “Delivery workers tell us that they want to choose when, where, and if they want to work, and that is what we allow them to do.”

Mr Ben Ali has called on bike riders - as well as drivers of traditional taxis - to join his movement.

Traditional taxis

Drivers of traditional taxis are set to hold their own movement in front of the train station Gare de Lyon in Paris this Friday, February 21. The “static protest”, as they are calling it, will take place from 11h to 13h.

The drivers are unhappy with a planned revamp of the station, which they say will “damage taxi access”.

They are calling for “free and exclusive access for taxis on the forecourt of the Clock Tower, parking spaces for pre-ordered taxis, and the continuation of the taxi rank in rue de Bercy”.

In response, a spokesperson for train company SNCF told the Agence-France Presse: “We will allow five minutes of free parking for taxis so they can drop their clients off in a satisfactory way”, and said that the flow of vehicles in front of the station could be improved.

Plans include the installation of a barrier, restricting access to the station courtyard, from March onwards. Private vehicles and ride-sharing app cars will be allowed into the courtyard, but will have to pay.

The spokesperson added that the taxi rank on rue de Bercy would indeed be kept in service.

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