Taxi drivers stage new protest against Uber in Amsterdam

Dozens of taxi drivers in Amsterdam turned out for a protest against paid ride sharing platform Uber. The drivers gathered at the NDSM-plein in Amsterdam on Wednesday, angered by the alternative taxi service's low rates and high volume of drivers which the demonstrators said was crushing their organized trade.

They then made their way as a group from the side on Amsterdam Noord close to the Berlage Bridge in Amsterdam Oost. The drivers work with authorized taxi providers licensed by the city, but many of them said they also work with Uber as a necessary evil to boost their deflating revenue.

One driver told broadcaster AT5 that without the ride sharing service they might easily drive aimlessly around Amsterdam for two hours without picking up a fare. "Most of us only fill the gaps with Uber. Driving only for Uber driving? That won't save you," another said.

During one recent 11-hour workday, driver Yassin said he earned a pittance working for Uber. "I had a few nice trips, including two runs to Schiphol. But most of the day they were short journeys, from the city center to Amsterdam Zuid and Amsterdam Oost," he told the Parool. "After deducting costs, taxes and the commission charged by Uber, I did not have 60 euros leftover."

Uber Benelux director Maurits Schönfeld said his firm wanted more information to address the issue. "We do not recognize ourselves in the image that is being sketched. The vast majority of our drivers drive on our platform for less than 30 hours a week," he told AT5.

The Parool also spoke to a driver that also accused Uber of slaving wages, as he only managed to pull in five euros per hour. He said he had to continue working with the platform because he used the service as a means to lease the vehicle.

"If the government can set a maximum rate, then they can also impose a minimum rate," said Ruud Lagerwaard, a taxi industry advocate from TTO Taxistad, to the newspaper. "As it is now we are heading towards the end of the taxi industry in the Netherlands."

Amsterdam politician Numan Yilmaz was guardedly optimistic that the two sides were speaking to each other. Yilmaz though stood firmly on the side of the drivers when addressing them at the Berlage Bridge. "We know that other political parties support the platform, but we do not. We speak out against this injustice. We stand next to you," Yilmaz said.

Tensions around Uber in the Amsterdam taxi industry has been rising for months. The taxi drivers cited a string of fatal accidents as another main reasons for their protest. They also claim that due to Uber's presence there are now too many taxi drivers in Amsterdam. The last estimations placed the number of taxi drivers at around 8,000.

The Amsterdam drivers were said to be inspired by a successful protest against Uber by the taxi drivers in Barcelona. As a result of those protests, a rule was implemented that Uber rides must be ordered an hour in advance in the city center of Barcelona.

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