(Updated at 2:10 a.m. PST to include additional developments.)
Uber is the subject of another national protest in France today, brought by taxi drivers who are still furious about what they see as the company’s flagrant disregard for driving laws.
In Paris, French taxi drivers were out early, in one case blocking a road by setting tires on fire and setting off firecrackers, according to the French news site L’OBS. The site also reported an incident at the Orly Airport outside of Paris involving a shuttle that tried to get past taxis blocking the entrance.
The latest taxi strikes are part of a larger national strike that includes a broad range of public service workers, teachers, air traffic controllers, and others. Each group has a different agenda, such as school reform or pay increases. But they have banded to together to protest on the same day as a sign of solidarity among workers.
In the case of taxi drivers, the protest is the second time in the past six months that drivers have taken to the streets to express their frustration with Uber and other ride-sharing services. Last summer, the action, which was mostly peaceful but included some violent confrontations, prompted the government to start an investigation into the company, which ultimately decided to suspend its UberPOP ride sharing service in France.
But Uber has continued to offer its other traditional services, like UberX, in France. Taxi companies argue that these services still don’t follow the rules governing who can take passengers for money.
Uber, for its part, stressed concerns about violence and safety in an email to its users in France. “Last summer, things turned violent,” the company wrote. “To ensure your security, stay informed throughout the day and if you can, avoid places like airports.”
The company also argued that these protests were more about fear of competition and represent an attempt to scare away people who might be inclined to drive for Uber. The company said it is helping thousands of people go through the process of obtaining an official taxi license, but that the protests could also throw a wrench into those efforts.
Uber is also asking users to sign a letter to government officials requesting that taxi licensing rules be simplified.
UPDATE: A representative for a French taxi union said his organization had been invited to meet this afternoon with President Manuel Valls and other transportation ministers. The union wants to discuss what it views as a failure to implement a law (the “Thévenoud law”) passed two years ago and designed to tighten regulations of ride-sharing companies.
"The Thévenoud law has not been implemented so we will ask for a commission of inquiry to understand why," Joseph Bitar, a taxi union representative, told the French Newspaper Le Figaro.
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— iTELE (@itele) January 25, 2016