Arriving to the Nordic Startup Conference in Denmark, it took us literally two minutes to walk from the arrivals hall to the Hilton hotel where the conference was taking place. Once there, we heard a lot of horns being made by quite a few taxi’s around the place. As it turned out – they were boycotting the event as Uber’s General Manager for Denmark, Mathias Thomsen, was speaking there.
Although it is a little bit ironic that the shortest possible trip from the airport to the venue was being boycotted by taxi drivers – in all fairness they were simply trying to target the local news and get their point across.
As in many other countries – the argument is simple. Uber is not legal by the Danish laws, yet the government overlooks these shortcomings. As a speaker for Taxi Drivers in Denmark (TID) organization commented for ArcticStartup: “We don’t think that Uber is capable of being here as they are violating the Danish law. This is a conference promoting startup companies in the Nordics and we think that a company that can not keep the law is not a company that should be promoted.”
In Denmark, you must have a license to be a taxi driver and also a license for your car to be certified as a capable taxi car. That is no easy feat as you need to have a clean criminal record, a first-aid license, several years of drivers experience, accounting knowledge and more.
The car also needs to adhere to a large list of rules such as A+ environmental cleanliness accrediation. Losing the license is perhaps even easier. One taxi driver commented: “I had a medical condition with high blood pressure. When I went to the doctor, they withdrew my license and I could only renew it once a year until I was fit again.”
Given that it can takes years to get it, and the investment can be significant – it is understandable that the Taxi drivers are not happy that other drivers can basically start performing the same service without going through the hassle. Which would not be a problem if the government wasn’t so strict in the first place.
The Taxi drivers also accused Uber representatives of openly telling their undercover driver that he can simply have several accounts for keeping ratings high and circumventing tax authorities.
This ongoing feud between Uber and authorities worldwide is disheartening as many have already shown that the effect of Uber on the overall economy is largely positive. Perhaps the government should figure out a way to make taxi drivers join the shared economy initiative and compensate them for their trouble of having to receive licenses in the first place instead of simply figuring out a way how to ban Uber?
While at it, we hope more events are organized right next to the airport, so that you do not need to take a taxi or an Uber.