Almost 2,500 taxi drivers in France have accused Uber of unfair competition, claiming that the ride-hailing giant’s business has caused them to lose an average of €9,300 each per year.
The trial kicks off on Friday in France, with taxi drivers demanding €455 million from Uber.
The 2,480 drivers say they represent 8% of the total number of taxis in the country and are supported by nine taxi unions in their case against the US company.
It is one of many legal wrangles that Uber has had to grapple with since arriving in France in 2011,
Back in 2020, France’s Supreme Court ruled in favour of a former Uber driver, who claimed he should be considered as an employee of the company, not a freelancer.
The country’s high court said that the Uber driver’s freelance status was “unsubstantial”.
Based on that 2020 ruling, the taxi drivers in today’s trial allege that Uber is refusing to apply French labour laws, and benefits from unfair advantages. They are subject to more restrictive rules than those holding freelance status, the taxi drivers claim.
“We intend to prove that Uber put in place a system where unlawfulness is an operational principle, a system where violating the law is used as a means to destroy the market, at the expense of competition,” the taxis drivers’ lawyer Cédric Dubucq told AFP.
Beyond their own assessment of an average annual loss of €9,300 per driver, the complainants are asking for compensation for psychological damage.
Uber said the taxis’ claim is “baseless” and “out-of-date”.
“Over 35,000 drivers and taxi drivers use our app to generate revenues. This action is against the interest of an entire sector, as well as drivers who wish to remain independent, just as thousands of independent French taxi drivers,” declared an Uber spokesperson.
In a separate judicial case earlier in October, a Parisian appeals court ruled Uber had to compensate 149 taxi drivers because of unfair competition linked to its former UberPop app.