‘The work is atrocious’: Paris garbage collectors vow lengthy strike

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.

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

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.



Rubbish strike in Paris to continue for FIVE more days

Trade unions in Paris have vowed to continue their strike, which means uncollected rubbish will continue to pile up in the capital. Other cities around France are also overflowing with rubbish.

Rubbish strike in Paris to continue for FIVE more days
Photo: AFP
Any hope of a pristine Paris for the Euro 2016 tournament can be kissed goodbye, as the CGT union announced on Thursday afternoon that the garbage collection strike would continue until at least June 14th.
The tournament, which begins on Friday night, will likely come with a bit of a stench as temperatures rise. 
“We are extremely worried about the absence of cleanliness is several neighbourhoods,” said deputy Paris mayor Bruno Julliard, who is in charge of street cleaning in the capital. “We must be extremely careful.”
And it's not just in Paris that black bin bags are stacking up on the streets. 
Other host cities such as St Etienne and Marseille have also had to put up with rubbish piling up on the street.
The strike has seen workers blockading waste processing centres in Paris, causing uncollected rubbish to pile up in ten of the capital's 20 districts.
Strikers have also blocked access to the rubbish collection trucks.
The arrondissements affected are the 2nd, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 17th, and 20th. 
With nowhere else for locals to dump rubbish, the garbage has begun to spill over onto the streets across Paris. 
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has called for an end to the strike action and promised to get the rubbish collected as soon as possible.
“We are redeploying staff to sort out the situation where it's most critical today,” she said.
The picture below, taken in the 5th arrondissement on Thursday afternoon, shows that some rubbish is indeed being cleared. 
Photo: Michael Damstrup
Other streets weren't so lucky, such as this one below near Etienne Marcel in the 2nd arrondissement. 
Photo: The Local
Officials said that private companies were being hired to remove the accumulating waste.
They added that they were in discussion with union heads in a bid to come to an agreement. 
The strikes are part of a much larger movement that has seen French union members protesting labour reforms that essentially will make it easier for companies to hire and fire employees. 
But the president's hope of a strike-free Euros have been dashed, it seems. 
And many of the locals aren't impressed either. The owner of a clothes store in the 2nd arrondissement told The Local on Wednesday that the piled up rubbish in front of her shop was “horrible”. 
“It just adds to the terrible image of France in the press at the moment,” she said.
“People think there's a war going on here with the protests. It affects the number of customers coming into my shop, as does everything else happening in France that has scared tourists from visiting. No-one wants to come to France and especially Paris at the moment.”
Uncollected black refuse sacks were also gathering in Saint-Etienne, the central city that will host four Euro 2016 matches, as well as Marseille in the south.