Strikes in France: Binmen begin protest over Paris Olympics pay

Unions are calling for bonuses for all staff and have posted strike notices for action throughout the whole period of the Olympics and Paralympics

Rubbish collectors are threatening to strike over the Olympics and Paralympics, as they demand higher pay and bonuses
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Waste collection workers in Paris have begun a strike that they are threatening to continue over the entire Paris Olympics and Paralympics period, with unions saying that up to 70-90% of workers are taking part.

The protests and strike movement began yesterday (May 14). The official notice to strike covers the dates May 14, 15, 16, 22, 23 and 24; and then July 1 to September 8. 

If it goes ahead, these dates will cover the entire Olympic and Paralympic Games periods, which are set to take place from July 26 to August 11, and August 27 to September 8 respectively.

What are the workers asking for?

The CGT is demanding a pay rise of €400 per month for all staff, and a one-off bonus of €1,900 for staff who will be working during the Olympic Games.

The union CGT FTDNEEA said that workers had “mobilised very strongly”, and that strike rates were at “70% to 90%...depending on the arrondissement”. The CGT said that 400 strikers have been “occupying” the central human resources department (DRH) building at City Hall since 8:00.

The CGT FTDNEEA brings together workers from the waste treatment, water cleaning, sewerage and sanitation sector, as well as refuse collectors and other staff from the clean water department (DPE).

Will the strike continue? 

It is not yet clear, although negotiations have begun. Mayor Anne Hidalgo and the HR department have met with union representatives, to receive the official strike notice, but also to hear workers’ grievances and attempt to negotiate.

After “several working meetings with the trade unions”, the mairie has said it has determined “five levels of bonus, ranging from €600 to €1,900 [which] will reward effective and exceptional investment in the Olympic Games”, it said.

This bonus “will be awarded to employees whose workload is increased by the preparation, organisation and/or participation in the Olympic Games”. This will apply to “almost 20,000 employees” out of 52,000 city-wide, it said.

Union heads have yet to say if they will accept these terms, as they fall short of their demands.

‘Waste collection hardly affected today’

Despite the unions’ claims, the mairie told the AFP that only 16% of workers are on strike today, and denied that the action would have a significant impact on waste collection.

It said that “collection services were hardly affected”. However, it did not give figures.