MADRID – Thousands of Spanish taxi drivers now on the ninth day of a sometimes ill-tempered strike surrounded the headquarters of the country’s main political parties and trade unions in Madrid on Tuesday to press their demand for what they have called a more equitable regulation of ride-hailing services like Cabify or Uber which compete with them.
Up to 2,000 cab drivers gathered outside the downtown headquarters of the ruling Socialist Party later to head to the building housing the main opposition Popular Party, all under the watchful gaze of riot police.
“We are taxi drivers, we are not multinationals,” they chanted outside the buildings.
The demonstrations took place as news broke that a taxi driver who had been injured after he threw himself on the hood of a ride-hailing cab as it drove past was in a very serious condition, according to hospital sources which spoke to EFE.
The 30-year-old driver suffered a head injury when he fell off the ride-hailing cab at a picket line near Madrid’s Barajas international airport and was then accidentally run over, the hospital said.
The driver of the ride-hailing cab was under investigation, police said.
A leading taxi trade union spokesperson told protesters that it was currently negotiating hard for a new ride-hailing services regulation proposal.
“By lowering our demands we are telling Madrid’s regional government they have the possibility to solve this situation, if they want to,” said Julio Sanz, president of Madrid’s Professional Taxi Federation.
“We want to reach an agreement,” he said, adding that, “the ball was on the government’s court.”
Madrid woke up Monday to a major police operation to clear one of the city’s main Paseo de la Castellana boulevard from striking taxi drivers who had blocked it.
Helicopters hovered overhead while officers moved in with tow trucks as scuffles broke out.
Jesus Fernandez, vice president of a taxi trade union said that Spain’s regional governments had to decide “what sort of public transport model they want.”
Ines Sabanes, Environment and Mobility councilor of Madrid’s City Hall said the regional government must negotiate with the taxi drivers without “drawing red lines” as, in her opinion, the present conflict originates from the failure to comply with legislation already in place limiting the number of ride-hailing services within the ratio of one to 30 taxis.