Sunday 26 October 2014

Uber cab service banned in Germany

Published 02/09/2014 | 09:47

The Uber app allows customers to book and track vehicles

A court has issued an injunction barring ridesharing service Uber from operating in Germany, the latest shot in the company's fight with taxi drivers.

Frankfurt state court spokesman Arne Hasse said the decision that Uber cannot offer its services without a specific permit under German transport laws applies nationwide.

The injunction applies pending a full hearing of a suit brought against Uber by Taxi Deutschland, a German cab association that also offers its own taxi-ordering app.

The suit is being heard in Frankfurt because it is one of the several German cities in which Uber operates.

The ruling comes after Berlin authorities last month barred Uber from operating in the capital because of safety concerns.

Taxi Deutschland's arguments were in line with those of established cab companies that claim Uber's app-based services, which offer limousines and pick-ups by private drivers, dodge rules that ordinary taxi firms have to abide by.

Taxi Deutschland said Uber allows drivers to skirt safety and insurance regulations that apply to conventional cabs, and for employers to avoid sector benefit and wage agreements and taxes.

"The state, society and workers all lose," the company said in a statement.

San Francisco-based Uber did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mick Cash, acting general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: "This is an important and significant development. The undermining of the Private Hire Laws by apps such as Uber is just another attempt to casualise and weaken the professional and safe licensed taxi trade and the long-established regulations around the right to ply for hire, coming after the exposure of the illegal ranks around London and the drive to destroy the airport services.

"Huge and wealthy multi-national corporations are now trying to use their financial clout to bully their way into areas that have been governed by Private Hire Laws in London and other cities around the globe for decades and which have delivered safe, reliable and efficient services for passengers down the years. The news from Germany should serve as a wake-up call to London Mayor Boris Johnson and others who seem to be beholden to Uber's financial and corporate power."

A spokesman for the GMB union commented: "Uber seems to have adopted the route of forcing its way into markets on a like-it-or-lump-it basis.

"The hypothesis Uber put forward is that the existing rates are high and that monopolies exist that somehow should be broken.

"Many individuals have taken time to invest in learning the profession and whilst some aspects of Uber may be beneficial for drivers wishing to earn, there are misnomers.

"Rates generally are dropped after a time and as soon as a driverless solution is available, drivers will naturally be out of work."

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