What is the protest by French taxi drivers, driving instructors and ambulance workers all about?

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What is the protest by French taxi drivers, driving instructors and ambulance workers all about?
Taxi drivers take part in a blockade on the A6 highway near the Porte d'Orleans, southern Paris, on May 20, 2019. Photo: AFP

Taxi drivers caused traffic chaos around Paris on Monday morning as they blocked the peripherique ring road around the French capital as part of a joint protest with driving instructors and ambulance workers. But what's all the fuss about?


Taxis gathered early on Monday morning, blocking the roads near the city's main airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, as well as around the business district of La Défense. 

The result was car chaos as traffic jams also grew around Boulevard Raspail in central Paris and commuters struggled to get into the French capital.  

A “go-slow” protest was also being held on the A4, beginning at Lognes, a town in the greater Paris region of Ile-de-France, while on the A106 an estimated 200 taxis were protesting at Chevilly-Larue and there were about 50 taxis at Chilly-Mazarin.

So, what's the protest all about?

The taxi drivers, driving instructors and ambulance workers are voicing their opposition to the LOM  - the new transport law currently under consideration in the French parliament. 

A spokesperson for the taxi division of the SUD union, Adil Karami told the French press that the new law would "destroy the balance between traditional taxis and private minicabs (VTCs)."


Karim Asnoun from the taxi division of the hard left CGT union said the new law "plans to give VTCs the same rights of taxis, such as the freedom to use bus lanes and social security agreements without subjecting them to the same constraints."

Meanwhile French driving instructors are furious over the proposed reforms to the system of preparing for the theoretical and practical driving tests which they say will undermine their profession and make the country's roads less safe. 

One measure would ease accreditation rules to allow driving schools without a physical premises - i.e. online schools - to be set up more easily. This would be unfair to traditional schools who have to fork out for a room or a building in which to hold classes, unions argue. 

Driving instructors were set to block roads across the country, with traffic jams predicted in major cities, notably Toulouse. 

As for ambulance workers, who also protested at the end of 2018, they want an end to article 80, a controversial measure which private ambulance companies worry will threaten their jobs, as hospitals are now under obligation to put out calls for tender for transport contracts.

"We have asked the prime minister to meet with us," said Adil Karami from the SUD union, adding that this is merely "act 1" of the protests and that "the government has an interest in solving the problems as soon as possible."


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Anonymous 2019/05/20 13:10
Far too many restrictive practices in France making the consumer pay more then they need to

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