Copenhagen cab drivers stop traffic to protest Uber

Copenhagen cab drivers demonstrated against the rideshare company Uber on Saturday night by blocking traffic at Kongens Nytorv.

Copenhagen cab drivers stop traffic to protest Uber
Taxi drivers blocked Kongens Nytorv on Saturday night. Photo: Jens Astrup/Scanpix
The local taxi industry has railed against what it says is Uber’s illegal operation in Denmark. The taxi drivers argue that the rideshare service Uber Pop creates unfair competition because Uber’s drivers and vehicles aren’t required to live up to the same requirements as others in the taxi business, one of the most thoroughly-regulated industries in Denmark. 
The Danish Transit Authority filed a police complaint against Uber in November 2014 and the Copenhagen Police confirmed in May 2015 that preliminary charges had been filed against the American company, but to the taxi drivers’ dismay the case has yet to go to court. 
Taxi drivers have reported individual Uber operators to the police, but charges have been rare due to uncertainties over legislation. Commissioner Søren Wiborg of Copenhagen Police’s traffic department told Berlingske in December that current policy is not to actively pursue Uber drivers, but to charge them if they are caught by other means such as regular traffic checks.
On Saturday night, Copenhagen taxi drivers took their frustrations to the streets and blocked off the busy Kongens Nytorv area at 9pm. 
The protest action was organized by taxi driver Nadim Rasool. 
“We just want to display in a peaceful way that we should have the same rules. If they can drive around without paying taxes then lorry drivers and chauffeurs should also be able to stop paying taxes,” he told news agency Ritzau. 
“If we need to pay taxes and have insurance, they should also have to. If there is going to be competition, it needs to be on equal footing,” Rasool added. 
Uber’s spokesman in Denmark, Oliver Carra, said that individual drivers are responsible for reporting their income for tax purposes. He said he hopes that Denmark will clarify the rules to avoid future clashes with the established taxi industry. 
“Uber shares a wish for reform of taxi operation and ride share programmes that would make it possible to take advantage of technology in order to create safe, convenient and cheap rides to the benefit of the Danes,” Carra told Ritzau. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Danish supreme court upholds fines given to Uber drivers

The Danish supreme court Højesteret has upheld fines totalling 700,000 kroner (94,000 euros) given to four men for operating illegal taxi services as Uber drivers in 2015.

Danish supreme court upholds fines given to Uber drivers
File photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Ritzau Scanpix

The four drivers will therefore be required to pay respective fines of 486,500 kroner, 110,000 kroner, 60,000 kroner and 40,000 kroner.

Special prosecutor Anne Risager expressed her satisfaction with the outcome.

“It was important to make a statement about the cost of breaking taxi laws to such a large extent as seen here,” Risager said.

The size of the fines equates to the earnings made by the four drivers from transporting paying passengers in private vehicles using the Uber app.

The ride-sharing service announced its withdrawal from Denmark in March 2017, having launched operations in the country in 2014.

Although a prosecution request to increase the fines by 20 percent of drivers’ earnings was rejected by the court, Risager said the result was satisfactory.

“The most important thing for us was that they did not make earnings through breaking taxi laws. The fines are at a level that made this unprofitable,” she said.

Defence lawyer Poul Helmuth Petersen said he was disappointed on his clients’ behalf but gave no further comment.

An unnamed spokesperson with Uber also expressed disappointment at the decision in a written comment.

The cases against the four men are test cases, given that the court was required to make judgements based on Dutch tax records. Uber’s European head office is in the Netherlands, and the Dutch evidence was therefore the first of its kind to be used in a Danish case.

The finding of the supreme court that the material was passable sets a precedent for up to 1,500 new cases against former Uber drivers whose details were handed over to Danish police voluntarily by Uber’s Dutch office.

That information includes names, bank details, addresses and earnings of drivers who used the app for work.

According to Danish tax authority Skat, 2,134 Uber drivers collected 56 million kroner in Denmark in 2015.

Police have also awaited the outcome of the case in order to commence prosecution of Uber itself for participation in providing illegal taxi services in Denmark.

The four drivers had sought acquittal, with their lawyers arguing against the use of tax records as evidence.

READ ALSO: Uber wants to return to Denmark after admitting past mistakes