Uber has strangled Europe’s taxi drivers. Now it wants to hire them

Drivers like Hubert may be suspicious of Uber’s dealings, but in some unions there is real hostility towards the company. “We expect nothing from Uber. It is a predatory multinational company that cares less about its employees, cares less about its customers, and tries to impose its rules by force on the states where it operates,” said Karim Asnoun , a former taxi driver and secretary of the CGT Taxi labor union, said. “It doesn’t respect anything, and the taxi is just a pawn in its strategy.” Conditions on platforms like Uber are very unfavorable for drivers because their commissions are very high, he added.

But Uber is trying to overcome their suspicions by offering positive incentives to encourage taxi drivers in Paris to sign up. “Today, there are no commission fees for taxis in Paris,” said Asnoun, who added taxi drivers were rewarded with €1,000 (or $1,004) for joining the app. Uber declined to provide details on how long these incentives will last. Diaz said incentives are a normal part of Uber’s service when it comes to rolling out a new feature. “Obviously we encourage… motorists to join the app, try it out and see what benefits it brings to them.”

Those same conditions have not been extended to all markets in which Uber has traded. In Belgium, where Uber Taxi also launched this month, Uber is taking a 10% cut in the earnings of new drivers, said Tom Peeters, deputy federal secretary of BTB-ABVV, a trucking and logistics union that has already launched. reached the first EU alliance agreement with Uber. in October. Italy’s largest taxi dispatcher IT Taxi, which also reached an agreement with Uber in July 2022, did not respond to WIRED’s questions about the commission its 12,000 drivers pay Uber or how the deal affected their income.

Diaz says it’s now possible to order taxis with Uber in 225 cities around the world. Since September, New York’s yellow cabs have been on the app. In the EMEA region, taxis are available in 70 cities in 17 countries, although an Uber spokesperson declined to list which ones. Diaz hopes to continue expanding Uber Taxi into new markets, including in London, the company’s largest European market. “Incorporating black taxis into our application in London would be an ideal scenario for us,” she said.

However, there is still animosity between the black cabs of the UK capital and Uber, after many years race, contest and court battle. “Uber was trying to destroy us,” said Grant Davis, president of the London Taxi Drivers’ Club, who has been a black taxi driver for 35 years. “We don’t need Uber, we have other apps like Free Now, we have Gett, and there’s another new app coming online that’s commission-free and owned by taxi drivers.” These services have about 10% commission, he adds.

Distributed regulations across Europe have always been an issue for Uber, and getting a taxi on a plane will be complicated, especially as many cities, such as London, there are strict rules on how much taxis can charge. Although the taxi law in Belgium changed in October in favor of Uber, there are still places where the law limits the company’s ambitions. In Barcelona, ​​the regulations are still very, very restrictive,” said Diaz. “This is an example of where rules like minimum timeouts are still in place and that are very restrictive to creating the service we want to create.” The authorities in Catalonia, a region in northeastern Spain, have introduced Rule in 2019, a 15-minute waiting time is required from booking to being picked up. Uber is also preparing for the whole EU Regulationsis expected to introduce new rules on who can be classified as self-employed.

These taxi deals could be a new approach in Uber’s pursuit global domination of ride-hailing services. But the arguments for and against integrating taxis into the company’s app seem like an old battle to command the future of the industry. Diaz thinks the future is still in Uber’s favor. “I come from an era when hawker taxis were the norm and I know how to do it,” she says, while new generations “expect everything to happen on their phones — instant, efficient, and effective.” effective and sustainable”.

Taxi driver Hubert in Paris has no objection that the app is the future of the taxi industry. Like in London, Uber has competition in the French capital to help taxi drivers reach a wider audience. A French app called G7 increased his salary by 30%, he said; he claims a monthly subscription fee of €320 ($321) puts him under less pressure than Uber’s 25% commission. “The future will be digital,” said Hubert. However, he added, it doesn’t necessarily belong to Uber.


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