Uber is used in several countries, including Portugal, to use taxi drivers’ violence against Uber drivers as a way to boost the company’s image and win favors from governments, a press investigation reveals.
The plan began to take shape in 2015, when the North American company’s strategists realized they could. Uber benefits from acts of violence against driversGaining sympathy from public opinion, an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ, its acronym in English) reveals the Uber files.
One of the examples presented by the ICIJ investigation – cited by “The Washington Post” newspaper, one of the “media partners” in this investigation – occurred in Portugal in 2015, when taxi drivers committed “acts of violence” against Uber drivers. In several cases, it caused injuries to several people and led to hospitalization of one person.
According to “The Washington Post” newspaper, Rui Bento, Uber’s manager in Portugal in July 2015, was quoted in an “email” to colleagues saying the company was “considering” providing information about attacks and injuries. For local media, ANTRAL, the largest union of taxi drivers in Portugal, tried to counter Uber’s expansion strategy.
In Rui Bento’s version, in the news, the idea was to spread information about attacks by taxi drivers against Uber drivers.Make a direct link between these actions and the public statements of violence by the President of ANTRAL (Florêncio Almeida).to tarnish their public image”.
In response to this message from Rui Bento, Yuri Fernandez, Uber’s Communications Manager, Explore the past of Florencio Almeida: “To see if we have anything ‘sexy’ for the media,” according to documents cited in the investigation.
Bento and Fernandez did not respond to requests for comment on the case, according to the Washington Post.
Competition against the Uber service in Portugal and the lack of regulation of its operations grew in tone in the first half of 2015, and at the end of June, the National Transport Corporation confirmed the injunction. Roads in light cars (ANTRAL), with the Lisbon Central Court, to stop the operation of the technical platform.
Portuguese taxi drivers’ actions followed each other throughout the second quarter and picked up again in September and October with simultaneous demonstrations in Lisbon, Porto and Faro.
At the time, Portugal was ahead of legislative elections, which led to a change of government.
Regulation of technical platforms for passenger transport will come into effect in 2018.
The ICIJ investigation presents similar cases in other countries, such as Switzerland, where a violent attack by a taxi driver in Geneva against an Uber driver was analyzed as a potential source of benefits from the Bern government.
In this Sunday’s hearing, Christian Samolovich, one of the company’s lobbyists, was quoted in a message he sent to a colleague in March of that year, where he confessed. Uber can use violence against its drivers to its advantageAfter a European Commission adviser wrote on social networking site Facebook that he had been assaulted by Uber taxi drivers in which he traveled.
That week, four Uber drivers were attacked overnight in the Netherlands by taxi drivers who were protesting against benefits enjoyed by the American company, prompting Niek van Leeuwen, the organization’s manager for the European region, to report the situation. Then CEO Travis Kalanick.
With the approval of the company’s general management, Leuven expressed his angry reaction to the lawsuits in the Netherlands, feeding the case to the media and creating an internal statement in which he instructed: “We must keep this story of violence“.
From there, Uber began instructing drivers to stand up to violence from taxi drivers, reminding them that this was the best way to protect the interests of the company they worked for.
Travis Kalanick has appeared in several news stories, suggesting that Uber drivers stand up to taxi drivers, despite the risk of physical assault, to maintain a “narrative of violence.”
A spokesperson for the former CEO told the press association that the statements were taken out of context and that Kalanick never intended to put Uber drivers’ lives at risk, but that current company officials were outraged by the practices.