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Italy taxis strike over 'Uber' benefits

By AFP

Added 21st February 2017 04:21 PM

Taxi drivers are also furious that they have to work under fixed tariffs while Uber and the NCCs can charge as much as they like.

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Italian taxi drivers hold a placard reading 'Don't take an illegal taxi, take a white regular taxi' during a protest against the growing number of minicabs. Photograph: Andreas Solaro AFP/Getty Images

Taxi drivers are also furious that they have to work under fixed tariffs while Uber and the NCCs can charge as much as they like.

Hundreds of taxi drivers protested in Rome Tuesday as a strike over delays to Italian legislation regulating Uber and car-hire services entered its sixth day.

Commuters have been stranded in several cities across the country, with taxis from Rome to Milan, Turin and Naples taking only emergency fares for disabled people or those needing to get to hospitals.

The row is over the government's decision to suspend until the end of 2017 the introduction of norms to control car-hire and car-share services.

Drivers say the current rules benefit ride-hailing service Uber or NCCs -- cars rented with a driver -- because unlike taxis they can purchase licenses in smaller towns, where they cost less, but use them to work in cities.

Taxi driver representatives were due to meet with Italy's Minister of Transport Graziano Delrio later Tuesday.

"A taxi license in Rome is worth 150,000 euros ($158,000), but the NCC pays ten times less elsewhere," said Gabriele, 52, who has been a taxi driver since 2011 and did not want to give his surname.

His colleague, Antonio Moratti, 58, gave as an example a village in Calabria in southern Italy which he said had sold some 200 licenses to drivers who went to work in cities -- though the town was only authorised to issue two licenses.

Taxi drivers are also furious that they have to work under fixed tariffs while Uber and the NCCs can charge as much as they like.

The government postponed the bill to regulate the car-hire services because it wanted more time to investigate the issue, amid protests that the region should have the power to regulate the industry.

Italian Consumer Association Federconsumatori called for a quick resolution of the strike, which has reportedly lead to scuffles between taxi and NCC drivers and threats against those who want to return to work.

Rome mayor Virginia Raggi said she supported the taxi drivers, calling for a "stop to reforms imposed from above which add to city management problems".

But she urged them to find a way to return to work, saying "the taxi drivers are a calling card for tourists and foreigners" stranded at airports, stations and hotels.

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