Europe

French court 'orders Uber to compensate' Paris taxi rival

A French flag waves above a striking French taxi as drivers continue their national protest about competition from private car ride firms like Uber (27 January 2016) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The arrival of Uber has caused much resentment among France's traditional taxi drivers

The app-based taxi service Uber is reported to have been ordered by a French court to pay €1.2m (£911,000) to a rival taxi group after a complaint that drivers were breaking the rules.

The court ruled that Uber drivers were unlawfully collecting fares waiting in the street, the AFP news agency said.

This can only be done by taxi drivers who pay more for their licences.

The ruling comes on a second consecutive day of protests by taxi drivers angry over the impact of Uber.

Uber has argued that the goal of rival taxi companies is to put pressure on the government to limit competition.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Striking French taxi drivers blocked roads in parts of Paris during Tuesday's protests
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Taxi drivers from all over France - including the owners of these cabs in Marseille - are angry about the impact of Uber and other private hire services

It has warned that any effort to limit app-based car services would cost passengers more, put drivers out of work and take France back to an era before apps and smartphones.

But the National Union of Taxis (UNT) argues that unlicensed cab firms are unfairly competing against professional drivers who pay taxes and respect the rules.

It has accused Uber of being "ambiguous" in its communications with its drivers about the rules for private hire cars. Under French law they are expected to return to their garages after each fare rather than tout for more customers by parking up or by looking for passengers while driving up and down roads.

Uber has strenuously denied the UNT's charges, insisting it "regularly informs" its drivers of the need to return to their garages after each journey.

On Tuesday many UNT drivers joined a nationwide public sector strike along with millions of teachers, health workers and air traffic controllers who are angered by labour reforms.

At least 20 taxi drivers were arrested for "violence, carrying weapons and starting a fire", police said. Some had set bonfires on the road before dawn.

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