Dozens of taxi drivers stopped work yesterday in protest of the newly approved taxi bill submitted by the Minister of Infrastructure. The drivers have serious concerns about the changes included in the bill and are demanding a hearing with the government, Vísir reports.
Protests stopped by the police
As reported last Friday, taxi drivers staged a protest outside the Minister’s Residence in Reykjavík; expressing their strong objecting to a new bill on taxi services, drivers drove down the street and honked their horns in front of the residence. The bill, which was approved by Parliament later in the day, loosens requirements for operating a taxi and removes of restrictions on the number of work permits, among other things.
Taxi drivers’ interest groups strongly opposed the bill, citing concerns that the changes may incite violence against drivers and result in a decline in service quality for the public, and dozens of drivers went on strike yesterday, Vísir reports.
In the capital area, there have been unusually long wait times for taxis in recent days. Approximately 150 cars from the company Hreyfill were on the streets of the city at 3 PM yesterday, while there are typically around 200. However, the company claimed that the reduced number of available vehicles was due to weather conditions, rather than the strike by drivers, the article by Vísir explained.
Greatly upset with the bill
“A hundred of our members went on strike today in protest of the recently approved bill,” Daníel Einarsson, Chairperson of the Federation of Icelandic Taxi Drivers, told Vísir yesterday. The association counts approximately 400 members.
When asked what they were trying to achieve with these protests, given that the bill had been approved on Friday, Daníel responded thusly:
“We tried to get the government to speak with us and consider our concerns, but the bill was rushed through parliament without giving us a chance to voice our opposition,” Daníel stated. He was speaking from inside Hreyfill’s offices, where several taxi drivers had gathered to show their solidarity and express their frustration with how they have been treated by the government.
While the protest took place, coffee and donuts were offered to those in attendance.
Gunnlaugur Ingvarsson, a taxi driver, added, “it’s not every day that taxi drivers take action like this, but we feel overwhelmed by how we have been treated and how the government has ignored our concerns. We are here to make our voices heard.”