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Italian taxi drivers strike over Uber expansion plan

The Local Italy
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Italian taxi drivers strike over Uber expansion plan
There were no taxis available in Rome on Tuesday as drivers held the latest protest against a planned expansion by Uber. Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP

Taxi drivers across Italy went on strike on Tuesday in the latest protest over government plans to open up the sector to competition, this time citing allegations made against ride-hailing app Uber.

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Getting a taxi proved impossible on the streets of central Rome and outside the city's airports on Tuesday, as drivers called another strike without notice.

Italian taxi drivers have been protesting for weeks against a competition bill unveiled by the government, which aims to, among other things, open up the country's highly regulated and protected taxi industry.

Drivers said the bill brings the threat of unfair competition from online ride-sharing services like Uber, according to reports from Italian news agency Ansa.

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The protests on Tuesday were reportedly linked to the 'Uber Files', a data-based investigation by leading international news outlets, based on leaked documents which allegedly contain evidence that the start-up worked around laws in various countries and used aggressive lobbying tactics to curry favour with governments.

While Uber does exist in Italy, it currently operates on a limited basis in the biggest cities only and the Uber Black service was banned in the country until 2017.

But the company is now set for major expansion after finalising a deal in May to integrate its app with Italy's largest taxi dispatcher, IT Taxi.

The move is set to make the app available in over 80 more towns and cities in Italy.

In neighbouring France, 'Uber Files' reports in the Le Monde newspaper alleged this week that the company came to a secret “deal” with President Emmanuel Macron when he was economy minister between 2014 and 2016.

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