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Unfair competition? Swiss taxi drivers stand up to Uber

Taxi drivers from all over Switzerland have been demonstrating in the capital Bern against “unfair competition” from the ride-sharing service Uber. (SRF/swissinfo.chexternal link)

The demonstration was organised by Switzerland's largest single trade union, Unia, and the national taxi trade union. Following a demonstration at Bern’s football stadium, there was a procession of taxis through the city, before a petition was handed over to the government.

The unions have accused Uber of undercutting fare prices, lacking adequate insurance cover, and failing to enforce the type of quality controls that standard taxi firms are subjected to.

Uber drivers have been complaining as well. Some told Swiss public television, SRF, that they can hardly survive on their incomes because of what is known as 'wage dumping', where foreign workers are paid less than the standard Swiss wage for the same job. 

Uber differs from other taxi firms in that it allows riders to order and pay for its services through smartphones. It does not own cars or employ drivers, but connects passengers and vehicles via its app.

In Geneva the service was banned at the end of March 2015 because it was said to violate cantonal taxi regulations. Drivers there now face stiff fines. The unions want similar bans in other cantons.

Uber has faced protests by regular taxi drivers across the globe, and has been hit with many legal challenges. It says it offers much-needed competition for the taxi industry. Uber slashed fares by up to 20% recently in Zurich, Geneva and Lausanne. 

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