Violent protests began in Paris, where buildings were gutted by arson and nine citizens died, before hitting the Netherlands and Belgium. Spain is now in the mix after riot police were deployed on the streets of Madrid. Spain’s Yellow Vest protestors are demonstrating against Uber and other apps to get taxis around the Spanish capital. Drivers wearing yellow vests have been protesting for a week lighting flares and fires and waving banners to get their voices heard. And it appears to have worked after hundreds of riot police took to the streets to attempt to calm the situation before further violence broke out.
Taxi driver unions, who organised the strike, argue Uber and other apps are able to operate using a VTC licence that dodges Spanish laws requiring taxi drivers to have a pre-booked appointment with customers.
Tensions boiled over yesterday when a protester was seriously injured after being run over while trying to block access to an airport.
Other protesters gathered around bonfires and stayed out all night, refusing to sleep between demonstrations.
Julio Sanz, the Madrid Federation of Professional Taxi Drivers president, said: “In the Community of Madrid there is a clear political will to side with the VTC platforms, leaving aside the taxi collective.
“Do not run out of firewood, because this will last a long time. We will not leave here until we win this battle.”
Though demonstrators have managed to get the attention of the police, the same could not be said for the president of the Community of Madrid, Angel Garrido, who has refused to cave into demands to consider regulations against ride-sharing apps.
Mr Garrido said: “I am willing to legislate on what concerns me, which is attracting customers, but if someone wants to legislate to eliminate a sector, I tell them they have made a mistake.”
He also demanded drivers demonstrate “responsibility” over the protests, and said “a taxi strike does not benefit anyone”, referring to the thousands of tourists due into the city for a tourism conference in the coming days.
Spain is home to more than 67,000 taxis, with around 5,200 operating with a VTC licence.