The running global battle between traditional, unionised taxi drivers and insurgent chauffeur service Uber continues apace as a court battle in Frankfurt has foisted a nationwide ban on the company, with a €250,000 fine if they continue to accept bookings.
Although Uber claims Germany is its fastest growing market, it has been a tumultuous expansion for the San Francisco based firm, which uses a phone-app to connect would be passengers with drivers who can offer a significantly cheaper service than ordinary taxis. A previous ban enacted in Berlin last month invited a €25,000 fine for each violation, but only lasted for five days after it was defeated in court. Another ban was recently overturned in Hamburg.
The court challenge that has been brought by the German Taxi Service Company asserts that Uber users aren’t properly insured, and the cars used don’t stand up to the safety and accreditation standards the Unionised cabs do, reports TheLocal.de.
The German taxi drivers’ union is, like in many other countries, considered to be well-organised and powerful and seems determined to use the government to protect itself from undercutting rivals. This is also the case in other countries in Europe, where taxi drivers have long enjoyed state-guaranteed monopoly.
Paris, London, Madrid, Barcelona, Berlin, Rome and Milan were subjected to ‘gridlock’ protests by ‘go-slow’ taxi drivers in June as local taxi drivers vented their anger. With 5,000 black cabs protesting in London alone, Uber were delighted to announce an 850 percent one-day growth in sign-ups as a direct result of the demonstration.
Speaking at the time of the Berlin Ban, Uber’s German manger said: “[Banning Uber] is not progressive and it’s seeking to limit consumer choice for all the wrong reasons… We’re bringing much-needed competition to a market that hasn’t changed in years”.
On the latest Frankfurt ban, Uber said: “We will attack this judgement and defend our rights vigorously”. If the challenge is as swift as the other cases in Berlin and Frankfurt, German cabbies may expect further competition from Uber very soon.