The fight against UberX in Montreal is ramping up by local taxi drivers, as today they plan to strike and form blockades against Uber drivers, in what is being called an “Uber hunt” against the ridesharing service, seen as a disruptor in the cabbie industry. Blockades will begin around 6:30AM, according to Regroupment des travailleurs autonomes metallos (RTAM).
RTAM-Métallos spokesman Benoît Jugand, told the National Post yesterday the union—which represents 4,000 taxi drivers—will setup “blockades” by roaming taxi squads in unspecified areas of Montreal where UberX drivers pick up and drop off passengers.
Jugand says the pressure tactic is necessary as Quebec has failed to honour its “simple demand to have Uber cease operations during the parliamentary commission looking into the matter.”
Jacques Daoust, Quebec’s new transport minister, said last week Uber and other sharing economy companies are “here to stay” and issued a parliamentary commission to examine how to level the playing field between cabbies and ride-hailing apps like Uber.
In the clip below, last week, two Montreal taxi drivers took matters into their own hands against UberX, by smashing an Uber driver’s iPhone in front of TV cameras. Hassan Kattoua, an independent driver, can be seen wearing a sheriff’s costume in the video and with another driver, grabbed the UberX driver’s iPhone and smashed it with a hammer.
Kattoua says he paid $160,000 for his taxi licence in 2003, but has seen that previously coveted taxi medallion plummet in value because of UberX.
Youri Chassin, an economist with the Montreal Economic Institute, said “We are faced with a situation that is really tense,” noting how “The uncertainty and the cost incurred by the taxi drivers, who are really losing business (to Uber), has escalated.”
Xavier Van Chau, a spokesman for Uber Canada, told CBC News they have informed Montreal UberX drivers to be careful today and to stay calm if confronted by angry taxi drivers:
“What we’ve seen across Canada is, generally, intimidation tactics don’t bear fruit,” he said. “We’ve seen protests in Edmonton and in Toronto and in Quebec in the past, and I don’t think Canadians see this kind of activity favourably.”
Toronto taxi drivers are also planning their own protests during NBA All-Star Weekend, in an attempt to gain publicity for the plight of their industry due to UberX.
Blocking rush hour traffic is not going to win the taxi industry any friends. I’m not sure what their PR teams are thinking with these stunts, as they most likely will just drive people towards UberX, instead of away from it.