Taxi drivers want firmer action against Uber despite earnings registration deal

Alexei Stakh and Alena Schillerová, photo: ČTK / Krumphanzl Michal

Uber has signed a deal with the Czech tax authorities committing its drivers to registering their earnings using electronic cash registers from later this year. However, the country’s taxi drivers want a firmer approach to Uber and similar operators – and are threatening more protest action.

Alexei Stakh and Alena Schillerová,  photo: ČTK / Krumphanzl Michal
On Thursday the CEO of Uber, Alexei Stakh, signed a memorandum committing the company to taking part in the Czech Republic’s electronic cash registers system, known in Czech as EET.

The agreement will come into force in the autumn of this year and will only apply to new Uber drivers. At present the firm has around 2,000 drivers in this country.

Earlier this year Uber also committed to operating a licensed service in the Czech Republic. This puts the company on an equal footing with traditional taxi companies, as its drivers will have to register with the relevant authorities and have their earnings taxed.

However, taxi firms are still up in arms over their rivals. On Friday the Association of Czech Taxi Drivers called on the government to take a firm hand with Uber and a similar operator, Taxify.

The taxi drivers say the memorandum signed by Uber on Thursday is nothing but a gambit to buy time. In a statement, their leader, Petr Polišenský, said the taxi drivers want the state to bar the applications used by Uber and Taxify.

What’s more, the Association of Czech Taxi Drivers is ready to take further protest action if their demands are not met. Previous anti-Uber demonstrations took the form of go-slows that caused major traffic jams in Prague.

Mr. Polišenský said all the points contained in the memorandum should be a given and do not represent any kind of concession from Uber. He said signing up to the EET system was in any case likely to become obligatory for taxi service drivers of any kind this year.

Photo: Sandeepnewstyle CC BY-SA 4.0
Taxi firms insist that all such services should be based on a taximeter and that drivers should continue to undergo tests of their familiarity with streets and roads.

For its part the Ministry of Finance said the memorandum with Uber should help ease conflict between taxi drivers and Uber, as well as dispelling concerns that the state is unable to regulate the shared economy.

The minister of finance, Alena Schillerová, said current legislation gave the state sufficient powers to control such services. Uber is set to provide information that officials have been lacking, she said.

The American company has been operating in Prague for four years. Uber launched services in Brno last year before a court barred its activities. Though that ruling was overturned the firm is not presently active in the Moravian capital. Uber says it has 300,000 users in Prague.