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What to expect from Italy's taxi strike on Tuesday

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What to expect from Italy's taxi strike on Tuesday
Taxi drivers are set to strike across Italy on Tuesday to protest a new law. Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP.

Italy's taxi drivers are set to strike for 24 hours on Tuesday, October 10th, over a new decree allowing Italian cities to issue more taxi licenses.

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Taxi services across Italy are likely to be harder to find than ever on Tuesday, October 10th, after unions representing taxi drivers called a nationwide 24-hour taxi strike.

It's not yet known how many drivers will participate in the walkout, but anyone planning to use their services on Tuesday should be prepared to find alternative transportation.

Public transport services should be running as normal, following a separate 24-hour local public transport strike on Monday, October 9th.

Unions are protesting the final approval on Tuesday of a decree which will allow local authorities to issue more taxi licenses - a move intended to ease longstanding taxi shortages.

Italy's major cities have a smaller number of taxis - and taxi licenses - available compared to cities like London and Paris, and visitors this summer reported difficulties with finding a cab.

Rome, Milan and other cities will now be allowed to increase the number of licenses available by up to 20 percent via a fast-track approvals process.

READ ALSO: Italy investigates taxi sector over long waits and payment issues

The Orsa taxi drivers' union national secretary Rosario Galluccio told reporters the decree is "full of pitfalls and dangers," arguing that the fact that companies are eligible to participate in the bid process "risks benefitting multinationals."

Some Italian mayors have also criticised the law's requirement that any municipalities wanting to take advantage of the fast-track process must forfeit the 20 percent cut they would normally receive from each license fee.

Instead, the decree provides for the entire amount of the fee (instead of the usual 80 percent) to be split between existing licence-holders.

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"We are talking about several million for a city like Rome," Rome mayor Roberto Gualtieri complained when speaking at an event last week, calling the choice "an absurd mistake".

But Gualtieri agreed there was a pressing need for a greater number of taxis in the Italian capital.

"There has been a structural growth in tourism in Rome... and this has unbalanced the relationship between supply and demand.

"There are times and places where it is very problematic to find taxis."

READ ALSO: Reader question: Why can’t I get an Uber in Italy?

In August, Italy's competition watchdog said it was investigating the country's taxi sector, which is run by a powerful lobby, following reports of long wait times and repeated refusals on the part of drivers to accept card payments.

Taxi drivers have also previously gone on strike over plans to allow car ride-hailing services such as Uber to operate in Italy.

Uber is still not allowed in Italy, though in 2022 the multinational launched a partnership with the country's largest taxi dispatcher that means passengers can book a cab through the app.

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