Hundreds of taxis gridlocked downtown Brussels, Belgium on Tuesday, taking a stand against entrepreneurship, the free market, and the power of choice.
Unions claimed that more than 1,200 taxis -- including 100 from France -- drove through the heart of the city, slowing to block major intersections in protest of the expansion of the international ridesharing service Uber.
“We are fed up with Uber. They took 50% of our customers,” one of the protesters told the Wall Street Journal.
Taxis were emblazoned with signs reading “ceci n’est pas un taxi clandestin” (this is not an illegal taxi) and “non a Uber” (no to Uber).
The Silicon Valley-based startup that has revolutionized inner city transportation has now expanded to 55 countries around the world. Uber is often met with sharp resistance from taxi unions, who are often unhappy because Uber’s affordable pricing offers “unfair competition” to entrenched union drivers.
“It is killing all the jobs of the legal taxis who work legally and pay their taxes and so on – while the others have a complete other way of working, don’t pay their taxes and can offer less expensive services,” said a taxi driver in Brussels said, according to euronews.
Uber claims to comply with all tax laws.
“We’re totally legal, like totally legal, and the government is telling us to shut down. And you can either do what they say or you can fight for what you believe,” Uber C.E.O. Travis Kalanick told Vanity Fair last year.
The City of Brussels banned Uber from operating within the city last year, but last week Brussels Transport Minister Pascal Smet announced plans to legalize the driving service in 2016.
Uber operates freely in many European cities, but Brussels is not the first city which banned the company: Madrid, Spain has prohibited Uber within the city, and the service is highly regulated in Paris, France. Protests against the company’s expansion occurred all across Europe last summer, but Uber now thrives in more than 40 cities across the continent.