Taxi drivers on strike demonstrate in front of the headquarters of transport ministry in Rome, Italy, on Tuesday. Photo by Angelo Carconi/EPA
Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Taxi drivers went on strike across Italy Tuesday to protest increasing competition from Uber and other emerging rivals.
The cabbies said proposals from the Italian Ministry of Transport are are "unacceptable", have unfairly deregulated the market and allow private companies unfair advantages.
Unions in Italy are calling for tighter rules on where taxis and car-hailing services can operate, as traditional taxi drivers can only work in certain licensed areas -- whereas Uber drivers face no such restrictions.
"The government proposals deregulate the sector through the liberalization of car rental with driver services which is to the advantage of Uber," Alessandro Genovese, a member of trade union federation UGL, said.
The protest turnout was high in most major cities, and there were no taxis serving passengers arriving at Rome's Fiumicino airport Tuesday.
Riccardo Nencini, Italy's deputy minister of transport, called the strike "unjustified."
"The government aims to regulate the market so services to citizens are more efficient and better tailored to demand," Nencini said.
Nencini said Italy would not consider banning private car-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, but instead wants to regulate the market to accommodate both services.
Protests have been ongoing since Uber arrived in Italy in 2014.
To compete, Italian taxi cab services created a free app designed to rival Uber in major cities like Rome and Venice.