'The work is atrocious': Paris garbage collectors vow lengthy strike

The Local France
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'The work is atrocious': Paris garbage collectors vow lengthy strike
Archive Photo: AFP

You might start to notice the rubbish piling up on the streets of Paris in the coming days because the garbage collectors are on strike. And they vow to continue.


While most of the attention in recent days has been on striking rail workers an Air France staff, the capital's garbage collectors are also staging industrial action.

What are the strikers calling for? 

The hardline CGT union has called all garbage disposal workers from street sweepers to collection centre workers out to strike for an “unlimited” time from Monday April 3rd onwards.

The union decries their poor working conditions and calls for “a decrease in working hours for the difficult work employees face".

“On average a garbage disposal worker lives 15 years less than any other worker and we are 3 times more likely to die before reaching the age of 65”, said the CGT's Baptiste Talbot.

Another striker told the Huffington Post: “The work is frankly atrocious and difficult (...) because of it nobody really wants to become a garbage man in Paris."

The union is also demanding that garbage collection be put in public hands.

"Garbage disposal is primarily a public service”, said Stéphane Cravero, a union spokesman “But more than half of the service is under the private sector now”.

He said this generates “social dumping”, which leads to lower wages and poorer “working conditions”. 

Unions also want a rise in wages.

Will this mean a national garbage crisis?

No, at least for the time being. The strikes have only happened in Paris and in the south of South of France in cities such as Montpellier and Marseille.

A striker named Felix has insisted their aim is not to have rubbish piling up on the streets of cities across the country.

"We don’t want to stop picking up garbage, it’s our job after all, we don’t want to spread trash everywhere, we just want to join the struggle with the French rail workers," he said.

Will the strike continue?

The CGT union has called for “unlimited” strikes so at the moment we don't know when it will end. They are determined to make their voices heard.

“We will be here tomorrow and the next day and the day after that," said one striking garbage collector.




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