A man is reported to be in a critical condition after being hit by a car as he was participating in a Madrid roadblock organized by taxi drivers.
The accident took place at around 2pm on Tuesday, as an open-ended taxi strike in Madrid entered its second day after the main industry associations and regional authorities failed to reach an agreement on more stringent regulations for online ride-hailing services such as Uber and Cabify.
In Barcelona, taxi drivers continued a stoppage that began last Friday over new regulations covering VTC (vehicle for hire) licenses, which ride-hailing apps in Spain use to operate.
Several violent incidents have been reported during the protests, including vandalized vehicles and police charges in Barcelona against protesters who hurled objects at the officers. Economy Minister Nadia Calviño has called the acts of violence “deplorable.” More than 26,000 taxi drivers are participating in the stoppages in Madrid and Barcelona.
Taxi drivers blocked access roads leading to Madrid’s Adolfo Suárez- Barajas airport, including parts of the A-2, but lifted the roadblock after a colleague was hit by a passing car. Earlier, drivers had cut off sections of Avenida de la Hispanidad, M-14 and M-11 roads.
Regional premier Ángel Garrido said he would not yield to the taxi drivers’ pressure or pass laws “to eliminate a sector.” He added that the taxi industry on Monday “missed a great opportunity to reach a consensus.”
In Barcelona, taxi drivers are also on an indefinite strike over new regional regulations covering VTC licenses. Many protesters wore yellow vests reminiscent of recent anti-government protests in Paris.
The new rules, unveiled on Friday, say that clients of ride-hailing services must book their vehicle at least 15 minutes in advance, but taxi drivers find the measure insufficient to protect them from what they view as unfair competition from an unregulated sector. Taxi representatives want the period to be extended to between 12 and 24 hours.
Catalan taxi drivers have been occupying Gran Vía since Friday, and representatives are scheduled to meet on Tuesday afternoon with regional official Damià Calvet.
The new regulations have also upset VTC drivers, who say they jeopardize their jobs. On Sunday afternoon, hundreds of VTC drivers blocked parts of the city’s Diagonal thoroughfare to protest against the regional government having left them out of negotiations.
The strikes are reminiscent of last summer’s taxi walkouts, which only ended when the central government transferred regulatory powers over VTC licenses to the regions. But this move has merely shared out the problem without addressing the underlying issues.
English version by Susana Urra.