Over 1,300 taxi drivers in Portugal hold nationwide protest against ‘Uber Law’

taxi protest uber law Image from Lisbon - October 10, 2016: Taxi drivers protest against Uber and Cabify platforms and new laws, blocking road access to the Lisbon airport.

They started at 5AM; 1,300 taxi drivers across Lisbon, Porto, and Faro began protesting today the Portuguese “Uber Law,” cutting off traffic in Portugal’s major cities, demanding that their voices be heard.

In Praça de Restauradores, in Lisbon, were concentrated more than a thousand taxis in protest against the law that regulates the platforms of individual passenger transport, known by the common nomenclature the “Uber Law.”

Another 280 in Porto and 200 in Faro, combined with protesting taxi drivers in Madeira brought the total to around 1,300 taxi drivers in a nationwide protest, according to information obtained by Observador.

Rui Moreira, mayor of Porto, and Rogério Bacalhau, mayor of Faro, made themselves available to listen to the taxi drivers’ arguments, and at 12:30PM a delegation of 12 taxi drivers was escorted by the police to the Assembly of the Republic.

Bacalhau expressed support for the taxi drivers’ position. The new law, he said, “does not take care of the public interest, namely the availability of public transport when there is a need at different times of the day.”

Some regulation is needed, but for everyone to have the same obligations or at least to operate on competitive platforms of the same level. That is not what is happening at the moment,” he added.

In Lisbon, taxi drivers demanded a re-evaluation of the law that regulates platforms such as Uber, Cabify, Taxify and Chauffeur Privé by the Constitutional Court and wore dark t-shirts, which read the motto “#We are taxis.”

Portugal’s Environment Minister João Matos Fernandes recalled Wednesday that the law regulating electronic transport platforms such as Uber and Cabify deserved a “broad consensus” in the Assembly of the Republic, despite a presidential veto at the time of the first version of the bill.

“The law is a law of the Assembly of the Republic, having gained such a broad consensus in its approval, after a veto was enacted,” said Matos, who is in charge of urban transport.

“The Government is continuing to work with taxi drivers’ associations where we recognize that matters of complete agreement are few,”  said the minister to journalists gathered at the Câmara de Portalegre.

“On our part we are doing everything we commit ourselves, the law is a law of the Assembly of the Republic that is approved, enacted and what happens in any law is, in this case, on November 1 the law comes into force,” he added.

Matos also said that this legislative process was the “most participated in, most discussed, and longest” in which he had the opportunity to participate as a minister.

In July, Portuguese political parties the Left Bloc, the Portuguese Communist Party and the Green Party voted against the second version of the decree that regulates the new legal regime on the activity of Transportation in Vehicles Uncharacterized from Electronic Platforms (TVDE), also known as the Uber Law.

The first version had been vetoed by the President of the Republic for not being “balanced” for the taxi drivers.

The second version of the diploma was approved with votes in favor of the Socialist Party, the Social Democratic Party and and the People-Animals-Nature Party with abstention from the Central Democratic and Social People’s Party and was promulgated by Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

Rotáxis Faro president Francisco José Pereira said that in the Algarve, the main problem experienced by taxi professionals is the large number of non-characterized passenger transport vehicles that go there in the summer, to work in the months of greater tourist influx, withdrawing business to the sector traditional taxi ride.

“Our major concern is that this year, in June, July and August, we were invaded by hundreds of passenger cars in Car disfigured, something we never had, what happens next year will throw sustainability at the taxi industry, which is a traditional sector,” he lamented.

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