Drivers feared for their economic livelihoods, so they took it to the streets.
Image via YouTube
Although Uber started in San Francisco less than five years ago, its growth has been meteoric, and its reach, international. But while Uber has had major success in American cities, it faces increasing resistance in Western Europe’s social welfare economies, namely in France. Just this morning, taxi drivers across the country revolted against the intrusion of Uber, some going so far as to burn tires and cars, then block roads.
The reasons for the drivers’ resistance are complex, but many are concerned that Uber—with their deep anti-union politics and sometimes regressive attitudes towards women—will destroy the competition. Prices for rides may stay the same, but drivers are expected to lose some of their compensation. According to The New York Times, even the French Interior Minister Bernard Cazenueve dislikes Uber’s intrusions, arguing that the company behaved “with arrogance,” adding, “the government will never accept the law of the jungle.”
While many Parisians empathized with the taxi drivers’ struggle, some residents and out-of-towners dissented. Most notable was rock musician Courtney Love, who argued on Twitter, “They’re beating the cars with metal bats … This is France? I’m safer in Baghdad.”
Image via Wikimedia
Love was criticized for her insensitivity (Iraq remains a much more violent landscape than Paris), yet her comment brought attention. It remains to be seen what’ll happen in France, but either way, it’s an issue, and a story, worth watching.