Chaos in Rome continues as taxi drivers protesting against new liberalisation laws announced on 30 June stage wildcat strikes and demonstrations, blocking streets, causing severe delays for traffic and leaving passengers stranded at airports. A massive official demonstration has been scheduled for Wednesday 5 July in Piazza Bocca della Verit from 08.00 to14.00, with an anticipated 4,000 taxi drivers expected to attend. On 4 July, a delegation of taxi drivers was due to meet with staff from the ministry of economic development while the commissione di garanzia sugli scioperi, the body that regulates the legality of strikes, was also set to convene. The mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, has called for a halt to the demonstrations in favour of debate over the reforms, which he believes will benefit the economic development of the capital city. In Milan, however, mayor Letizia Moratti has announced that the new decree will not be enforced. Taxi drivers in Turin, Genoa and Naples have also been staging protests over the last few days.
The government reform means that the issuing of taxi licenses will be liberalised, allowing local councils to issue new ones and alter the terms of existing ones. Taxi drivers are up in arms because they claim that new licences and the other changes will reduce the value of old licences. However, the government contends that this is not the case, because, in addition to the measures allowing new licences, drivers with existing licences will be allowed to operate their cars twenty-fours hours a day, as against the present limit of eight hours a day, thereby rendering the licences more profitable. To take advantage of this concession, the owners of the licences will have to take on new drivers if they wish to cover a greater part of the day than the eight hours they can do on their own. Supporters of the new proposals claim that they should ensure that the consumer gets a much better service, in that taxis will be easier to find, employment in the sector will be created, as there will be demand for new drivers, and that the owners of the licences will make more money as there cars will be working longer hours.