Thu, Aug 30, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Taxi alliance threatens protest by 80,000 drivers

DEADLY:Drivers are forced to work longer hours, as Uber has found a loophole and continues to operate to the detriment of public safety, the alliance said

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The Taiwan Taxi Industry Development Alliance yesterday said that it would mobilize 80,000 taxi drivers to protest against Uber Taiwan, after five taxi drivers either committed suicide or died from overwork in the past two weeks.

After accumulating a huge number of penalties handed down by the government, Uber temporarily ceased operations in February last year, but relaunched two months later by forming partnerships with car rental companies.

Uber drivers now drive their own vehicles and are the car rental companies’ employees in name only.

“Uber uses legal car rental companies as shields to cover up its illegal taxi business, which has greatly reduced the revenue of legal taxi drivers. The five taxi drivers who committed suicide or died from overwork had trouble making ends meet due to a shortfall in income, which is similar to what happened in New York City,” the alliance said in a statement.

Uber should stop making impractical promises to distract people from the fact that it is the reason more taxi drivers have to work longer hours, the alliance said, adding that the government should crack down on Uber and its drivers or it will have to confront 80,000 angry taxi drivers.

The rules used to regulate taxis are stricter than those for regular car rental businesses, and are in place for passenger safety, it said, adding that taxi drivers must undergo a background check at a police department before they are allowed to work.

Cases of passengers being sexually abused by Uber drivers in the US and London, as well as Didi-Chuxing drivers in China, are the result of loosely managed online platforms, the alliance added.

Uber could have become a legal taxi business operator by joining the government’s diversified taxi service program, but it seeks to evade its responsibilities as a transport business operator and insists on running an illegal taxi business, the alliance said.

“It has accumulated NT$2.5 billion [US$81.4 million at the current exchange rate] in penalties for contravening government regulations, refused to pay taxes and caused the number of commercial vehicles around the nation to rise,” the alliance said. “It shows an outright contempt for the law in Taiwan.”

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications said that car rental businesses mainly offer two services: either renters drive the cars themselves or they request the service of a driver.

As the alliance is challenging the legality of the latter service, the ministry said it would seek opinions from the Ministry of Justice to ascertain if Uber’s business practices are illegal.

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