Taxi worker unions meeting in Belgium today pledged to take action to prevent potentially unsafe competition by non-regulated freelance companies using app technologies.

uber logoTaxi worker trade unions that are members of the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) from Europe, Canada, India and the USA met yesterday and today to explore joint action to defend accountable, regulated and knowledgeable taxi and courier services. They have decided to stage further protest actions on 8 October and to work together with governments and employers that share that priority.

The meeting, hosted by ITF Belgian affiliates BTB and ACV Transcom, examined how Uber Technologies Inc (Uber) and other taxi/courier app firms such as Lyft and Gett are increasing their market share in many countries. The companies promote themselves as electronic marketplaces that connect customers and drivers using mobile apps, often illegally, in conflict with existing taxi service regulations.

Concluding the meeting, ITF road transport section vice-chair Frank Moreels said: “Unions are certainly not against computer technology in the taxi sector. What we are against is these companies undermining public safety and the jobs of real, regulated taxi drivers by bypassing regulations and refusing liability in the case of accidents. That is why unions across the globe have come together and agreed some common steps to take.”

Uber is present in more than 205 cities in 45 countries across six continents. This summer has seen protests against it by registered taxi operators in cities including London, Berlin, Madrid, Paris, Milan and Seattle. Germany banned the Uber app at the start of September, while unions in Belgium are working with employers and authorities to confront Uber and protect standards for both drivers and passengers.

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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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