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Italy's taxi drivers on strike nationwide

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Italy's taxi drivers on strike nationwide
An empty taxi lane in Rome. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
10:53 CET+01:00
Taxi drivers across Italy are on strike all day on Tuesday, as unions protest against competition from Uber and other new rivals.

The strike will last from 8am to 10pm, with a protest planned in Rome.

The strike was called on Monday night after talks between union leaders rejected “unacceptable” proposals from the Italian Ministry of Transport.

Taxi drivers argue that the government has unfairly deregulated the market, allowing multinationals and private ride-hailing companies such as Uber to take advantage.

Unions are calling for tighter rules on where drivers are allowed to operate. Taxi drivers can only work in areas they have a license for, while Uber and other car-hire services are not restricted to a single zone.

Italy's deputy minister of transport, Riccardo Nencini, called the strike "unjustified". According to him, drivers' unions rejected the government's proposals to crack down on abuses and regulate new technology, with some drivers demanding an outright ban on ride-hailing apps. 

Italy is not considering outlawing private-hire services, Nencini said, but wants to regulate the market to allow taxis to coexist with newer companies.

Like taxi drivers across Europe, Italy's licensed cabbies have been protesting ever since Uber arrived on the scene in 2014, culminating in a wave of strikes earlier this year.

Drivers scored a victory over Uber's low-cost UberPop service, which allowed users to order a lift from a driver without a commercial licence. It was banned across Italy in 2015 when a Milan court ruled that it created unfair competition.

Taxi associations then tried to rid the market of the premium UberBlack service, which uses licensed private drivers. But their plans were thwarted in May when a Rome court lifted a temporary ban blocking the service. UberBlack has been free to operate since then, but only in Milan and Rome.

Italian taxi unions have created a free app designed to rival smartphone-based ride hailers, which allows users to search for, book and pay for licensed cabs via their mobile phone. 

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