France detains 2 Uber managers over low-cost service

  • Agencies, Paris
  • Updated: Jun 29, 2015 21:29 IST

Two Uber managers have been detained for questioning over "illicit activity" linked to the ride-hailing company's low-cost service, a spokesperson for the Paris prosecutor has said.

Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre didn't name the Uber two managers taken into custody on Monday. The American company has sparred with the government over its lowest-cost service. Despite a violence-marred taxi strike, Uber says it would keep operating the service until a ruling by the country's top court.

The investigation was opened in 2014 into the application which is used to put paying clients in contact with cheaper, private drivers who do not face the same regulations as cabbies.

Uber has faced rising anger in several countries, particularly in France where a taxi strike last week turned violent as drivers set fire to vehicles and blocked highways, creating a headache for thousands of tourists.

The standoff reflects larger tensions in France over how to regulate fast-moving technology and stay globally competitive while ensuring labour protections. French authorities are frustrated that Uber doesn't pay the same taxes and social charges as traditional taxis do.

The service has been illegal in France since January, but the law has proved difficult to enforce and it continues to operate. Licensed cabbies say Uber is endangering their jobs by flooding the market with low-cost drivers.

San Francisco-based Uber, which offers several types of ride-sharing services, claims to have 400,000 UberPOP users in France. The company argues that the French taxi system is outdated and needs reform to keep up with apps and geolocalization.

However, its drivers do not pay the same level of social charges, do not need to undergo the 250 hours of training mandatory for French cabbies and do not require the same insurance as taxis.

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