Vienna carriage drivers on strike

On Saturday, July 20th, a strike of fiakiers, Vienna carriagemen, took place. The protest was aimed against the allegations of animal rights organisations that protested against using horses in tourism.

The Stephansplatz, a square renowned for famous Vienna carriages saw a bizzare sight: horseless carriages and their drivers passing out flyers with the fiakier society statement and information on the living conditions of the draft horses working in Vienna.

"We oppose the lies and veterinary unacceptable allegations," said Martina Fiakerin Michelfeit, a deputy spokeswoman of the industry in the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, the APA.

The animal rights activists also want to draw attention to their concerns and hold at the same time - also on Stephansplatz - in a "vigilante" form.

It was not for the first time that the conflict was kindled by the debate about the famous carriage rides, especially popular among tourists. The recent requests of the animal rights include a ban on work for the quadrupeds during days of over 30 degrees heat.

Equipped with horse masks and balloons, the animal rights activist were persuading that the carriages are a "tradition associated with animal suffering."  They were pointing out that horses, as flight animals, were stressed by noise and traffic. The stress is even more excessive when the horses are harnessed and limited in movement options among heat radiating streets and building facades, unlike in nature, stressed Elizabeth Sablik, responsible for campaigns in the Verein gegen Tierfabriken association.

The animal rights organization "Four Paws" have recently launched an online petition, in which they demand, besides a work ban at 30 degrees, also shorter operating times for the horses, enough protection for sunlight and rides exclusively in green spaces - that is, outside the city center.

During the stike at Stephansplatz other carriage stops, such as St. Michael's Place, Burgtheater, and Albertina, operated according to schedule. 


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