31 Jul SPAIN TAXIS STRIKE, FROM A LEGAL PERSPECTIVE
These days we have heard about the strike which is taking place mainly in Barcelona and seconded in other cities such as Madrid, Valencia or Seville by taxi drivers against the licenses given to rental cars with driver platforms such as Uber or Cabify.
The crisis and the upward trend of the price of taxis have produced a proliferation of online platforms, created in order to put users and drivers in contact to make intercity journeys, establishing a high competitiveness to the taxi sector as they offer prices, according to the same platforms, 30% cheaper.
What are the differences between taxis and car rental with driver? The main difference is that the first ones are required a taxi license and the second a Touring vehicles with driver license:
– The licenses of taxis are authorizations offered by the city councils of each city, so the person who requests it, can offer this service.
– The Touring vehicles with driver license, however, are authorizations to exercise the activity of leasing vehicles with a driver.
The difference between both licenses is mainly the price. Taxis have a market price of more than 100,000 euros with rates of 3,000 euros, although the price varies depending on the city in which we are and how is the transmission of that license; and the second ones have a market price of about 40,000 euros (in fact the VTC license costs around 5,000 € but the concession of these licenses is so collapsed that it is only possible to acquire one by transmission of a license already granted, which gives it a variable and higher price depending on supply and demand).
Another difference is the requirement of fulfillment of requirements during the life of the license, what means that the taxis must pass a vehicle inspection every six month and must also perform a taximeter inspection once a year. Also, they must be established in the license a maximum of 16 hours marking the days off, while Touring vehicles with driver licenses only require the requirements of any other private use vehicle: annual inspections, the possibility of working 24 hours 7 days a week, without any restrictions.
What is the conflict that has been started and what are the taxi drivers asking for?
The Regulation of Land Transport, in its Article 48 establishes that “in accordance with the community rules and other provisions that are applicable, when the offer of public transport of passengers in passenger vehicles depends on quantitative limitations at the regional or local level, regulatory limitations of new authorizations may be established in that kind of vehicles as well as those that qualify for the leasing of vehicles with a driver. In this way, the granting of a Touring vehicles with driver license was limited for every 30 taxi licenses.
However, in 2009, the Omnibus Law, as it is known, was published, which liberalized transportation and finished the limits on the number of licenses for the leasing of vehicles with drivers. So, since 2009, lots of Touring vehicles with driver licenses were requested, exceeding the proportion, until in 2015, a new law was approved in order to re-establish the 1/30 ratio, avoiding the application of the Omnibus law.
The result of this legislative swing is that this proportion has been exceeded, and nowadays there is 1 Touring vehicles with driver license for every 8 taxis, as in the case of Barcelona or 1 Touring vehicles with driver license for every 4 taxis in Madrid.
The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, tried to introduce an additional requirement to drivers who had already granted the Touring vehicles with driver license in order to limit the number of operating Touring vehicles with driver. However, the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia suspended this measure for lack of competences. A local standard can not contradict a state one and, also, according to the resource presented, for interference in markets with damages for the competitors.
So, taxi drivers making an effective use of their right to strike, are asking for the real application of the ratio 1/30, suspending licenses already granted. Although the government has informed of the resolution to transfer the licenses power to the different regions, taxi drivers will keep the strike because they are not fully satisfied with the outcome of the meetings which have taken place so far.
Estela Baztán Amills
Navarro Lima Abogados, S.L