Update 12:06PM – A second incident of an Uber car being attacked by up to 20 men has been reported by Bertier Luyt, confirmed by Uber.
Update 12:16PM – no less than a dozen confirmed incidents in Paris & Lyon, including “flat tires, eggs, broken windows,” confirms Uber.
The right to protest has always been powerfully upheld in France – whether it’s protesting an immigrant’s right to healthcare, the closing of a factory, or even Taxis, who have perfected the art of making their voice heard; however, how much is too much?
It seems that protest turned to guerrilla warfare this morning as one Uber driver, carrying Eventbrite CTO Renaud Visage & Kat Borlongan from the airport to Paris, was attacked by multiple assailants, who allegedly, after smashing one window and slashing two tires (as seen in the photo), as well as defacing one side of the car with glue, attempted to enter the vehicle. Borlongan says their Uber driver manoeuvered the two out of the situation before anything could happen, leaving the three stranded on the shoulder of the freeway.
“Now on the shoulder of the freeway waiting for help, freezing and with my hand bleeding from the splintered glass. Thanks for the big welcome home, Paris. ” – Kat Borlongan
There’s no confirmation that this attack came from the protesting taxi drivers; however, that certainly seems to line up with the sentiment felt by taxi drivers these days – unwarranted hate.
Attackers tried to get in the car but our brave @uber driver maneuvered us to safety, changed the tire on the freeway and got us home.
— Kat Borlongan (@KatBorlongan) January 13, 2014
Update: Uber’s GM of France Pierre-Dimitry Gore-Coty has commented on the incident:
“Uber strongly condemns this morning’s incident where two of our users and our driver were confronted with severe violence.
First, we are very glad all involved are safe and ok. Also, we would like to praise our partner who has shown great courage and professionalism, who focused on getting his customers out of a very challenging situation.
That the taxis chose to use violence is unacceptable, that they chose to strike is their business. However, Parisians also have a choice when it comes to moving around in their cities, and today’s incident will certainly not tempt Parisians into choosing a taxi for their next ride. Safety, reliability and choice, not violence, are what continues to draw customers towards VTCs.”
Taxi drivers today are protesting against the likes of Uber, and against what they consider to be a government that refuses to see things their way, according to an official press release. The only problem is that this protest comes less than a month after the French government caved in to the Taxi union demands to enforce the 15-minute law, not just for new users, as was originally intended, but for all users of Chauffeur apps.
It’s a question of credibility, according to Le Figaro’s Yann La Galès, who thinks the Taxis are looking to have their cake and protest the lack of the aforementioned cake, too.
Meanwhile, one Chauffeur App startup, Allocab, says it won’t take the protest, or the 15-minute law, lying down. According to Frenchweb, the startup is already pushing legal action through against the 15-minute law – we spoke last week about how the “law,” which actually is a Presidential decree, not voted on by the legistlative body, may be ruled invalid, due to the fact that decrees cannot take affect if they change the balance of competition – I think that’s an easy argument to make.
— Rude Baguette (@RudeBaguette) January 13, 2014
For now, what’s left of the fleeting reputation of Taxi drivers may have just been dwindled down to nothing but shattered glass and a flat tire.