Tensions between French taxi drivers and Uber drivers have been heating up for months, but today, that anger became vitriolic. Riots broke out throughout France, with Uber drivers and taxi drivers taking aim -- literally -- at each other’s cars.
The highly regulated taxi industry in France says it is unable to compete with UberPOP, the peer-to-peer arm of the transportation technology company where any driver can become a freelance Uber driver. UberPOP is the equivalent of UberX in the U.S. and is the most inexpensive of the Uber offerings.
French politicians have ruled that UberPOP would be illegal in France starting January 1, but Uber says that the decisions handed down are not from bodies with the power to make such declarations and are therefore not authoritative.
“Under the rule of law, only the justice can say what is legal and what is illegal; so far, no French court of justice has ruled UberPOP illegal and banned the service in the country. Some parts of the administration are bending under taxi pressure and declaring POP illegal, but this is inaccurate and biased,” says Uber spokesperson Thomas Meister, in an email with Entrepreneur.
There have been reports that Uber is paying all the fines that UberPOP drivers receive from local officers. To this, Meister says only, “We always stand by Uber partners, no matter what happens to them.”
The protests between the UberPOP drivers and French taxi drivers flamed up just as celebrities from all over the world descend on France for the Cannes Film Festival. Courtney Love detailed her experience of her Uber car being attacked by taxi drivers and her having to pay off some men on motorcycles to get her out of the situation.
they've ambushed our car and are holding our driver hostage. they're beating the cars with metal bats. this is France?? I'm safer in Baghdad— Courtney Love Cobain (@Courtney) June 25, 2015
François Hollande where are the fucking police??? is it legal for your people to attack visitors? Get your ass to the airport. Wtf???— Courtney Love Cobain (@Courtney) June 25, 2015
paid some guys on motorcycles to sneak us out, got chased by a mob of taxi drivers who threw rocks, passed two police and they did nothing— Courtney Love Cobain (@Courtney) June 25, 2015
how on earth are these people allowed to do this? the first car was destroyed, all tires slashed… https://t.co/lWuFRMG6I5— Courtney Love Cobain (@Courtney) June 25, 2015
we got out after being held hostage for an hour thanks to these two guys. I'm scared out of my wits.… https://t.co/cAOELz463U— Courtney Love Cobain (@Courtney) June 25, 2015
Have a look at some of the scenes from streets in France below.
Vtc porte maillot pic.twitter.com/x7rddhaCy3— Paristaxis95 (@paristaxis95) June 25, 2015
Battling regulations and legacy technology has become part of the Uber business model. But the San Francisco-based technology giant also says that the chaos happening on the streets throughout France today is going too far.
“Uber firmly condemns the recent acts of violence against Uber partners and their cars, perpetrated today in Paris and in other French cities; whatever the anger, violence is never acceptable,” says Meister.