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Hollande wants UberPop gone as cabbies fight on

The Local/AFP · 26 Jun 2015, 08:25

Published: 26 Jun 2015 08:25 GMT+02:00

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Main events:
  • Hollande condemns violence and says UberPop must be declared illegal
  • Interior Minster lodges legal action against Uber for "pursuing an illegal activity"
  • A number of taxi drivers are continuing to protest in western Paris
French President Francois Hollande on Friday condemned violent protests against ride-booking app Uber after taxi drivers
set fire to vehicles and blocked highways but he said the service should be taken off the road.
Hollande described the demonstrations, in which US rocker Courtney Love was caught up, as "unacceptable violence in a democracy, in a country like France."
But Hollande, attending an EU leaders summit in Brussels, added: "UberPop should be dissolved and declared illegal."
The service has been illegal in France since January, but the law has proved difficult to enforce and it continues to operate.
Around 3,000 cabbies took part in the strike Thursday, blocking access to the capital's Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports, and preventing cars reaching train stations around the country.
Ten people were arrested, seven police officers were injured and 70 vehicles were damaged in clashes between Uber drivers and taxi drivers.
Taxi drivers are furious at what they see as unfair competition from Uber, which puts customers in touch with private drivers at prices lower than those of traditional taxis.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said after meeting taxi drivers' unions following a fraught day: "UberPop is an illegal service, it must be closed down."
Until that was done, "the vehicles of UberPop drivers should be systematically impounded when they are openly breaking the law", the minister said.
"Governing the country will never be done by the law of the jungle," Cazeneuve added.
On Friday Cazeneuve launched legal action against Uber for continuing an "illegal activity". The minister denounced the "cynical and arrogant" attitude of the company, which he said operated an "underground and clandestine economy"
Story continues below…
One of the taxi drivers' representatives, Ibrahima Sylla, described the minister's words as "promises, again" and said the drivers were considering continuing the demonstrations.
"What happened on Thursday was an SOS, an alarm cry. We are dying and the state must take its responsibilities," before calling on French taxi drivers to continue the movement.
Most cabbies heeded their unions' calls to return to work on Friday, but around 40 die-hards remained at the busy Porte Maillot junction in western Paris.
"The drivers decided to keep up the action because we didn't get anything, only some things to regulate the (drivers) on the black market, which is in any case banned," said Khalid, a driver.


The Local/AFP (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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