Yesterday, travel chaos was seen all over central London. This chaos was brought on by a group of people who are supposed to help prevent congestion, taxi drivers. Nearly 10,000 cabbies went on strike as they protested an app called Uber. This is a smartphone app that allows customers to see where the nearest Uber driver is.
The cabbies of London say that Uber is in violation of taxi laws, which state that a normal vehicle cannot be equipped with a fare meter. However, Uber has found a loophole because there is no law that says that a smartphone cannot be used as a fare meter. As a result, the Uber system is able to help people calculate fares according to the journey time and distance. This allows people using the Uber service to become cabbies overnight.
The taxi drivers of London will not stand for it. They protested at Trafalgar Square at 2 p.m., causing gridlock all over the city. People saw huge delays as taxis refused to move. Police were in full force giving fines and warnings for causing the disruption. However, fines were only handed out for taxi drivers who demonstrated beyond their specified demonstration sites.
Police had already received word about where the taxi drivers would be demonstrating. By law, all labour unions must share their plans for demonstration with law officials before strikes happen. This written notification has to be received at least six days before the demonstration starts. This is required so that emergency services are still able to manoeuvre around town if needed without getting caught up in the demonstration.
Transport for London has been at odds on what to do with this matter for some time. Right now, Uber has not broken any laws. However, Transport for London does see why the taxi drivers have a problem with this. It has referred the issue to the High Courts. Either way, cabbies feel that the way Transport for London has been handling this matter is very poor.
According to law officials, the protest by taxi drivers is being backed by United. This is a group made up of the London Cab Drivers Club and the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association. The strike in London is just part of the planned protests. There are other cab drivers in other cities that are participating in the protests as well, including Berlin, Paris and Madrid. In total, nearly 30,000 taxi drivers were involved in the protest.