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Paris mayor kicks up a stink over bid to end bin collectors’ strike

As 7,000 tonnes of uncollected rubbish litter Paris’ streets, the government wants to force striking bin collectors to go back to work

There were more than 7,000 tonnes of uncollected trash on the French capital’s streets as of March 15 Pic: Jaromir Chalabala / Shutterstock

Rubbish is continuing to pile up in Paris as waste collectors strike over the government’s controversial pension reforms.

There were more than 7,000 tonnes of uncollected trash on the French capital’s streets as of March 15, the ninth day of the strike.

Now France’s interior ministry is pushing for the waste collectors to be “requisitioned”, a power available to the government to force striking workers back to work.

Paris’ socialist mayor, Anne Hidalgo, opposes the move and said it would be far better to engage in dialogue with them.

“The claim of the garbage collectors of the city of Paris, who legitimately wish not to work two more years (...) is right,” wrote Hidalgo. "The only answer likely to appease the current climate is to engage the social dialogue rather than delivering a showdown by making requisitions".

After Hidalgo refused to requisition, Paris’ police chief, Laurent Nuñez, said he would do it instead.

Bin collectors have been on a “renewable” strike since March 6 in protest against the government’s proposed retirement reforms which would push the age at which they can retire up from 57 to 59.

 On Tuesday (March 14), the CGT FTDNEEA (Filière Traitement des Déchets Nettoiement Eau Égouts Assainissement) union voted to continue the walkout until at least March 20.

The striking bin collectors are responsible for emptying bins and collecting rubbish in half of the capital’s arrondissements (2e, 5e, 6e, 8e, 9e, 12e, 14e, 16e, 17e and 20e) as a result, not all of Paris’ residents are even aware that in neighbouring areas pavements are blocked. 

In the other half of Paris’ arrondissements, private companies - not affected by strikes - are responsible for collecting rubbish.

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