London black cabs blockade streets in Uber protest

Thousands of traditional black taxis blocked central London to protest Uber.

Thousands of London black cab taxis

Thousands of London black cab taxis block Whitehall during a protest in central London, Britain, 10 February 2016. Source: AAP

Thousands of traditional black taxis blocked central London from Trafalgar Square to the parliament on Wednesday in protest against car-sharing service app Uber and government pressure on their regulatory body.

The protesting London taxi drivers said that Uber avoids paying taxes and taxi regulations by presenting itself as an IT company.

Len Martin from the United Cabbies Group said that Uber need to be subject to the same regulations as black cabs.

"It's not about us being afraid of technology. All we are saying is if you are going to use technology to do this job, then you have to comply with the rules and regulations of this country," Martin said.

"They've come in. They've been facilitated by TFL and they've hijacked us and TFL have done nothing to support it's licensed trade," said Sean Day, a London taxi driver who was unhappy with Transport for London, the city's regulatory body for travel and their response.

The line of black cabs stretching across Whitehall, where many of Britain's government offices are based, pressed on their horns and protested outside Downing Street.

Taxis brought Westminster to a standstill with the traditional London vehicles parked nose to nose along the usually busy street.

The London taxi representative for trade union UNITE said that Uber acted like it was above the rules and that the government had let them avoid tax.

black cabs
Cab drivers protest by blocking the streets of London on February 10, 2016, in a rally against Uber. Source: AAP

"We fail to see to be a taxi driver you have to be a fit and proper person. We fail to see in that circumstances you can be a major operator in the London private hire market and not pay your taxes on your profit in London in the UK. But what you do is you pay your taxes in Holland. That's absolutely wrong," said Jim Kelly, London's Unite Union taxi representative.

In January, London transport bosses decided not to impose strict new rules on Uber and private hire cars, despite a series of protests from the city's black cab drivers.

Founded in 2009, the San-Francisco based taxi app has faced legislative and regulatory hurdles worldwide and opposition from traditional taxi drivers across many European cities.

2 min read
Published 11 February 2016 at 5:29pm
Source: Reuters