Travel Alert: Italian Taxi Drivers to Strike

Travelers’ plans will be hindered next week due to a nation-wide taxi drivers’ strike in Italy. The strike is the drivers’ opposition to a new initiative of Prime Minister Romano Prodi’s center-left government. In an effort to revitalize the sluggish Italian economy, the government is making moves to liberalize some of Italy’s most protected industries, including taxis, pharmacies and law firms, among others. The Italian taxi services are regulated by municipal authorities, and in Rome, taxi drivers’ organizations have imposed significant fare increases, making it the most expensive taxi service in Italy.

This proposed deregulation would increase the number of taxi licenses given in Italy, which previously could be handed down or sold to the highest bidder, in order to open up the industry and hopefully decrease the control the taxi lobby currently exerts on prices. Consumers in Italy have reacted very favorably to these new measures, expecting it to lead to cheaper goods and services.

However, the taxi drivers themselves seem to be settling in for a long, fierce struggle with the government. A nation-wide strike has been organized for next Tuesday, July 11th, to last the entire day, according to Maurizio Longo, head of the Italian taxi drivers union. Groups of drivers have already been staging smaller, independent strikes in various cities all over Italy on Saturday, including Rome, Milan, and Turin. In fact, a sit-in of several hundred taxis blocked Rome’s central Piazza della Repubblica for most of the day on Saturday, July 1st.

Read more in this Scotsman article. — Cailin Birch