Protest of taxi drivers in several biggest Polish cities
Taxi drivers blocked traffic in several biggest cities to persuade the government to take actions that would hinder illegal carriers. As Jarosław Iglikowski, the president of Warsaw Taxi Driver union explains, the state is protecting criminals instead of honest entrepreneurs. Vehicles driven by taxi drivers went to the streets at 7:30 a.m. and ended their protest at 1:00 p.m. At the end of the drive, the major institutions and ministries were to receive their petitions.
One of the contentious subjects in talks between taxi drivers and the government is Uber. According to taxi drivers, the statement from Office of Competition and Consumer Protection saying that “Uber is not illegal competition” is irrational. Iglikowski stresses that illegal carriers do not register their vehicles and do not pay taxes in the country.
Apart from Uber, according to the union’s estimates, there are at least eight thousand illegal drivers in the streets of Warsaw. As taxi drivers stress, they do not want to remove the competition, as it is needed. Their goal is competing on equal terms.
Iglikowski explains that this is the last protest of the kind. If no one pays attention to it, the union announces another protest in autumn, this time not as peaceful.
During the protest, taxi drivers got fined by the police for hindering traffic. As to the Ministry’s attitude towards the issue, there are plans to add obligation to hold a licence for intermediation for transfer of people into amendments to the act on road transport. Introducing obligation to order transfer by an intermediary to an entity with a suitable licence and to keep an orders register are also in plans. For many illegal companies as well as Uber this means no possibility to employ drivers who without the said permits. It should be noted here that in 2014 a regulation came into effect which meant you do not need a licence to provide the services. Concerns were voiced at the time, but not one listened.
Passengers vary in their responses to the protest. Some understand the need to fight competition, others point the finger at the “old ways” of standard taxi corporations and not keeping up with client needs. They cite examples of rude behaviour of “typical” drivers and poor condition of the cars offered by standard corporations. As they stress, the aforementioned Uber introduced a limit to the age of the car that may offer services, which increases the comfort of travel.