Hundreds of French taxi drivers, joined by others from Belgium and Spain, blocked Porte Maillot motorway in Paris today (26 January 2016) amid nationwide strikes and protests regarding working conditions and competition from new services such as Uber. The traditional taxi drivers – who do not require an app for their services – are protesting against what they consider to be unfair competition from companies relying on customers ordering taxis on their smartphones, which have faced a number of legal challenges in France.

French police fired tear gas at of the thousands of taxi drivers who lit fires on the interchange that leads to west of France's capital as dozens of drivers tried to march from the Porte Maillot intersection on to an eight-lane bypass. Police continued to prevent them from doing so through the use of the gas.

France taxi strike
Taxi drivers block the traffic during a demonstration against the VTC (transport vehicle with chauffeur) on the ring road (peripherique) at Porte Maillot in ParisThomas Samson/AFP
France taxi strike
Anti-riots policemen arrive as taxi drivers block the traffic during a demonstration against the VTC (transport vehicle with chauffeur) on the ring road (peripherique) at Porte Maillot in ParisThomas Samson/AFP
France taxi strike
Anti-riots policemen stand next to a fire during a taxi drivers demonstration against the VTC (transport vehicle with chauffeur) on the ring road (peripherique) at Porte Maillot in ParisThomas Samson/AFP
France taxi strike
Taxi drivers block Marseille access during a nationwide strike by France's 5.6 million-strong civil servants to protest against labour reforms that were proposed last September, affecting pay and career advancementBoris Horvat/AFP
France taxi strike
Taxi drivers block the traffic with a fire during a demonstration against the VTC (transport vehicle with chauffeur) on the ring road (peripherique) at Porte Maillot in ParisThomas Samson/AFP

Rachid Boudjema, 37, president of the taxi drivers' union in Marseille, stated that Uber drivers "vandalise professionals who are paying taxes, who respect the rules". He described them as "American cowboys" who "want to destroy our system, the system we are all attached to".

France taxi strike
An anti-riot policeman stands during a demonstration against the VTC (transport vehicle with chauffeur) on the ring road (peripherique) at Porte Maillot in ParisThomas Samson/AFP
France taxi strike
Anti-riot policemen arrive as taxi drivers stand by their cars during a demonstration against the VTC (transport vehicle with chauffeur) on the ring road (peripherique) at Porte Maillot in ParisThomas Samson/AFP
France taxi strike
Firemen extinguish a blaze during a taxi drivers demonstration against the VTC (transport vehicle with chauffeur) on the ring road (peripherique) at Porte Maillot in ParisThomas Samson/AFP
France taxi strike
Anti-riot policemen take away a barrier during a demonstration against the VTC (transport vehicle with chauffeur) on the ring road (peripherique) at Porte Maillot in ParisThomas Samson/AFP
France taxi strike
A leaflet calling for a strike is seen behind a striking taxi driver's armband on the approach road near Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport in Roissy-en-France, near Paris, FranceJacky Naegelen/Reuters

France taxi strike
Anti-riots policemen arrive as taxi drivers stand next to their car during a demonstration against the VTC (transport vehicle with chauffeur) on the ring road (peripherique) at Porte Maillot in ParisThomas Samson/AFP
France taxi strike
Protestors block the traffic during a taxi drivers demonstration against the VTC (transport vehicle with chauffeur) on the ring road (peripherique) at Porte Maillot in ParisThomas Samson/AFP
France taxi strike
Taxi drivers take part in a blockade of the access to Paris's Charles-de-Gaulle airport in protest against competition from taxi app company Uber and other non-licensed private-hire cabs.Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP
France taxi strike
Taxi drivers stand in front of police forces during a demonstration at Porte Maillot in Paris, FranceThomas Samson/AFP
France taxi strike
A taxi car stands in front of policemen as smoke from a fire rises during a demonstration early in the morning at Porte Maillot in ParisThomas Samson/AFP

The protests meant that one in five flights were cancelled at Paris airports, while other flights faced delays due to air-traffic controllers staging a walkout as taxi drivers disrupted the roads. Other reports suggested that a taxi driver was injured at Orly airport while trying to block a bus entrance. Other public-service workers such as teachers are also on strike regarding a range of issues including wages, working conditions and education reforms – the latest challenge to Francois Hollande's Socialist government and its 'stop-and-start' efforts to modernise the economy.

France taxi strike
A taxi car stand in front of police forces during a demonstration that happened early in the morning at Porte Maillot in ParisThomas Samson/AFP
France taxi strike
Taxi drivers gather around a fire during a demonstration early in the morning at Porte Maillot next to the Arc de Triomphe, ParisThomas Samson/AFP
France taxi strike
A taxi car stands next to taxi drivers gathered around a fire during a demonstration early in the morning at Porte Maillot in ParisThomas Samson/AFP