Uber files: Portugal among countries where Uber taxi driver used violence to get benefits – Current Affairs

The plan began to take shape in 2015, when strategists at the American company realized that violent acts against Uber drivers could benefit from public sympathy, an investigation of Uber files by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reveals. (ICIJ).

The investigation revealed today that one of the company’s lobbyists, Christian Samolovich, in a message sent to a colleague in March this year, after the Commission’s counsel, he recognized that Uber could use violence against the company’s drivers. A European woman wrote on Facebook that she was assaulted by Uber taxi drivers.

That week, four Uber drivers were attacked overnight in the Netherlands by taxi drivers who were protesting against benefits enjoyed by the American company, leading 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 anger at the cases to the Dutch media, 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.
Despite the risk of physical assault, Kalanick has appeared in several news stories calling for Uber drivers to stand up to taxi drivers, suggesting that the “narrative of violence” should be maintained.

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.

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One of the examples presented by the ICIJ investigation – cited by The Washington Post, one of the ‘media partners’ in this investigation – happened in Portugal in 2015, when taxi drivers committed “acts of violence” against Uber drivers on several occasions, causing injuries to several and leading to hospitalization of one of them.

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.

According to The Washington Post newspaper, in July 2015, Rui Bento, Uber’s manager in Portugal, was quoted as saying in an ’email’ to colleagues that the company was “considering” providing the information. At a time when ANTRAL, Portugal’s largest union of taxi drivers, is trying to counter Uber’s expansion strategy, the attacks and injuries on local media.

In Rui Bento’s version, in the news, the idea behind the dissemination of information about attacks by taxi drivers against Uber drivers is to “create a direct link between ANTRAL (Florêncio Almeida) and the public violence reports of these actions. , to tarnish their public image.”

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In response to Rui Bento’s message, Yuri Fernández, Uber’s communications manager, proposed to investigate Florêncio Almeida’s past: “to see if there is anything ‘attractive’ to the media”, according to documents cited by the investigation.

Bento and Fernandez did not respond to requests for comment on the case, according to the Washington Post.

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.

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