International protest against Uber to take place in Brussels

International protest against Uber to take place in Brussels
Taxi drivers blocking traffic around Brussels in December 2021. Credit: Belga/ Jasper Jacobs

European taxi federations across the continent have planned to gather at the North Station in Brussels for a march to the European Quarter, demanding politicians act on the findings of the Uber Files that revealed how the company has manipulated national laws in favour of the platform.

The demonstration will take place on 8 September at 10:00 starting at the North Station on Boulevard Roi Albert II, from where the procession will march to the European Quarter. A request for the demonstration has been filed with the police, who are still reviewing the application.

“With the demonstration, we demand a full investigation into the UberFiles scandal,” said Abdel Sabbani, president of the BTF (Fédération des Taxis Bruxellois). The BTF counts on the presence of French, Spanish, Italian, Swiss, British, German, South American and Greek unions.

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The Uber Files date back to July, when Le Soir in collaboration with other European media houses highlighted the controversial practices that the multinational taxi hailing app used when it first arrived in Europe.

The company used far-reaching lobbying techniques and delivered legal texts to politicians that were sometimes copied in full into legislation. Particular attention was drawn to two Brussels politicians who were in close contact with the Californian company, namely Mobility Minister Pascal Smet and Mobility Committee chairman Boris Dilliès.

European unity

“The sector is united. Taxi drivers represent the income of five million families in Europe. What happened in Brussels has also happened in other European cities and countries. We have been robbed for years, forced to our knees: we demand justice,” said Sam Bouchal, spokesperson for the BTF.

Bouchal also opposes ‘Uberisation’ in a broader sense, a form of economy where users and providers meet directly via a digital platform such as the Uber app.

Following the hotel and transport sector, more and more sectors are being affected by peer-to-peer services, which evade many employment laws because there is no employer involved. “Uberisation is spreading. Taxis have only been the laboratory, the guinea pigs of uberisation,” Bouchal said.

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