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French taxi drivers block roads in strike against Uber

media It was taxis v Uber in France Thursday Reuters/Sergio Perez

Main roads into Paris's airports and train stations had been cleared by 9.00am Thursday morning after a protest by taxi drivers caused major traffic disruption. French cab drivers staged a one-day strike over competition from US-based Uber company, which they say threatens their jobs by taking customers away from licensed cab companies.

Uber's mobile phone app puts customers in touch with private drivers who then take them where they want to go, at prices lower than those of traditional taxis. 

French cabbies fear the competition will cost them their jobs and staged a strike on Thursday.

Hundreds converged on Paris's Charles De Gaulle and Orly airports and Paris Gare du Nord station early Thursday morning, while thousands of cabs were due to assemble in several other French cities to stage protests.

Taxi-drivers blocked a western section of Paris's ring road for about 30 minutes, according to police, overturning trash bins onto the busy throughfare before riot police moved in to restore the traffic flow.

In Toulouse about 40 taxis blocked access to the railway station, while others slowed traffic around the airport.

Some protests in recent days of have turned violent, with Uber clients and drivers reporting that they have been assaulted. 

On at least two occasions in Strasbourg last week, taxi drivers posed as customers in order to lure Uber drivers to isolated spots where they were assaulted by other cab drivers and their vehicles damaged. 

While popular with consumers, Uber is facing increasing limits on its activities in European Union countries and a barrage of legal challenges spurred on by a furious taxi lobby, which says Uber drivers should be regulated in the same way as normal cabs are. 

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