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Marseille covered by week of rubbish

Waste piles up on streets of France's second biggest city as striking binmen prevent collections for seventh day running

RESIDENTS in Marseille have found themselves surrounded by thousands of tonnes of rubbish as a strike by binmen nears its second week.

Local authorities in the city say the piles of waste lining the streets present a major public health risk, and are growing by about 1,600 tonnes a day.

Marseille agglomeration president Eugène Caselli accused Bronzo, the private company that has been clearing Marseille's rubbish for the past 20 years, of "taking the city hostage" by stopping collections.

The strike was called last Thursday after it was announced that the company is set to lose its contract with the council at the end of this year.

Fearing for their jobs, about 100 workers have been blockading the entrance to the city dump since then, making rubbish collections impossible.

One angry shopkeeper said: "Right in the middle of the Toussaint holidays, with tourists from the cruise liners flooding the streets, Marseille has the image of a huge dustbin."

This is not the first time France's second biggest city has found itself under a pile of rubbish.

The worst strike was in 2003, one of the hottest summers on record, and coincided with a visit by the judges assessing the city's bid to host the 2007 America's Cup, which ended up going to Auckland.

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