As Vincent Salazar walked along the Seine river on a sunny spring day, he was greeted by an unpleasant sight: piles of garbage bags, overflowing trash cans and rotting food on the sidewalks. He wrinkled his nose and shook his head.
“I’m fortunate to live here, but I’m 200% behind these guys,” he said, referring to the sanitation workers who have been on strike for three weeks. “They’re smelling it all day long. They should get early retirement.”
The garbage collectors are among the many groups of workers who have been protesting President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform bill, which would raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64 for most workers and from 57 to 59 for sanitation workers.
Mr. Macron has argued that the reform is necessary to ensure the financial sustainability of the pension system, but his opponents say it is unfair and unjust.
The strike has had a visible impact on the city’s cleanliness and public health, as well as its economy and tourism. According to city officials, around 9,500 tonnes of trash remained on the city’s sidewalks as of Wednesday, with only about a hundred garbage trucks in service. Around 250 trucks circulate the city on normal days.
Some trash containers have been set on fire by protesters, creating clouds of smoke and adding to the air pollution. There are also concerns about Paris’ already severe rat infestation becoming worse as the trash piles linger.
The strike has also affected businesses around the city, especially restaurants and cafes that rely on outdoor seating and foot traffic. Some owners have reported losing half their customers due to the smell and sight of garbage.
The authorities have tried to mitigate the situation by requisitioning 674 workers and 11 contracting companies to collect trash in some areas, but they have not been able to keep up with the demand.
The garbage collectors have vowed to continue their strike until Monday, when a new round of negotiations is expected to take place between the government and the unions. They hope to reach a compromise that would allow them to keep their early retirement benefits.
But Mr. Macron has shown no sign of backing down from his reform plan, which he pushed through parliament last week without a vote by using a special constitutional article. He has faced two no-confidence votes in parliament, which he survived with his majority.
The pension reform bill has sparked widespread discontent and protests across France since December, involving various sectors such as transport, education, health care and culture.
The protests have often turned violent and disruptive, causing roadblocks, train cancellations and clashes with the police.
Mr. Macron has said that he is open to dialogue and consultation with the social partners, but he has also defended his reform as a necessary modernization of the French social model.
The garbage strike in Paris is one of the most visible signs of public frustration over his reform. It is also a reminder of the power and influence of sanitation workers in shaping the image and mood of a city.
Macron’s decision to raise the retirement age by two years, from 62 to 64 for most and from 57 to 59 for garbage collectors has met with vehement protests, riots……
Garbage fills the streets of Paris as sanitation workers continue strike against pension reform bill
Garbage. Heaps, mounds and piles of it are growing daily — and in some places standing higher than a human being.
Piles of garbage are littering the streets of Paris as sanitation workers in the French capital protest President Emmanuel Macron‘s raising of the retirement age.
Garbage collectors in Paris will continue to strike through next Monday in protest of President Emmanuel Macron’s bill to raise the minimum retirement age.
There may be garbage piling up and transit unpredictability, but you can still have a smooth trip to the City of Light.