Italy's angry taxi protests called off

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By Catherine Hardy  with AFP
Italy's angry taxi protests called off

Taxi drivers in Italy have called off their protests prompted by delays to legislation regulating the ride-hire app Uber and other services.

Why have the protests been called off?

A deal has been reached with the government.

It came in the middle of the night, after five hours of negotiations.

Italy’s vice-minister for transport, Riccardo Necini, said drivers had agreed to return to work.

On Wednesday, the government will meet with taxi and NCC representatives to thrash out fresh guidelines for the sector.

Why was there a delay?

The government had postponed the bill to regulate car-hire services because it wanted more time to investigate the issue.

Passengers stranded

The six-day stoppage has left commuters stranded across the country.

Taxis have been accepting only emergency fares for disabled people or those needing to get to hospital.

There have been scuffles as protesters clashed with police.

What the protesters say

Drivers say the current rules benefit the ride-hailing service Uber or NCCS (cars rented with a driver) because, unlike taxis, they can buy licences in smaller towns where they cost less but then use them to work in cities.

Taxi drivers are also furious they have to work under fixed tariffs while Uber and NCCs can charges as much as they like.

Days of disruption

The late-night deal followed days of disruption and even violence.

On Tuesday, protesters in Rome set off flares outside parliament. One shattered windows in a neighbouring building.

There were also demonstrations in Milan and Turin, where taxis blocked a main square for several days.

What they are saying

“A taxi licence in Rome is worth 150,000 euros, but the NCC pays ten times less elsewhere,” said 52-year-old taxi driver, Gabriele.

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi said she supported the taxi drivers, but urged them to return to work as “they are a calling card for tourists and foreigners” at airports, stations and hotels.