Italian taxi drivers strike over Uber expansion plan

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.

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

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.

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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Italian low-cost airline staff to strike on October 1st

Pilots and flight attendants from Ryanair and Vueling will strike on Saturday, October 1st over wages and working conditions, unions said.

Italian low-cost airline staff to strike on October 1st

Pilots and cabin crew from Ryanair and Vueling will take part in a national strike action on Saturday, October 1st, Italian unions confirmed in a statement released on Monday. 

The statement said Ryanair staff will hold a 24-hour walkout, whereas Vueling staff will strike for a total of four hours, from 1pm to 5pm.

At the time of writing it wasn’t yet clear how the strike would affect passengers, though significant delays or cancellations can’t be ruled out. 

Italian trade unions Filt-Cgil and Uiltrasporti called the strike in protest against the employers’ failure to “grant acceptable working conditions and wages that are in line with minimum national salaries”. 

Unions also slammed Spanish airline Vueling’s decision to lay off 17 flight attendants based in Rome’s Fiumicino Airport “after months of hard work and professionalism”. 

A Vueling Airbus A320 plane.

Staff from Spanish airline Vueling will strike over working conditions and the recent lay-off of 17 flight attendants. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

The upcoming strike will be the latest in a long series of demonstrations that rocked Europe’s airline industry over the summer, causing significant disruption to thousands of air passengers. 

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

The last significant strike was held on Monday of last week, when a 24-hour national strike from unionised ground staff caused Italy’s flag carrier, ITA Airways, to cancel several domestic flights. 

On that occasion, ITA said affected passengers were rebooked on the first available flights.

As with all previous strikes, passengers travelling with Ryanair or Vueling on Saturday, October 1st are advised to contact their airline for updates prior to setting off.

In the event of delays and/or cancellations, the rights of all passengers are protected by EU regulation EC 261. This applies to any air passenger flying within the EU/Schengen zone, arriving in the EU/Schengen zone from a non-EU country by means of a EU-based airline (all airlines involved in the strike are EU-based) or departing from the EU/Schengen zone. 

READ ALSO: Passports: What are the post-Brexit rules for dual-nationals travelling in Europe?

According to this regulation, airlines are financially accountable for any journey disruption they are responsible for. That includes disruptions caused by airline staff strikes. Therefore, should your flight be significantly delayed or cancelled, you might be entitled to receive compensation from your airline. 

For further information on what you might be entitled to and in which cases, check our guide here.