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Meet the magnet fishers recovering bikes from Paris waterways

A pair of anglers armed with powerful magnets pulled out 51 rental bikes from a stretch of canal on the edge of Paris last weekend, a surprising haul even for the veteran practitioners.

Meet the magnet fishers recovering bikes from Paris waterways
Student Clement Charret with some of the Velb' bikes fished out of the canal. Photo: AFP

“It was incredible, we brought up 20 in the first half hour,” Clement Charret told AFP on Tuesday.

For the past year and half he has been trawling the depths of canals that snake north and east from the capital, “for fun but mostly to clean up”.

With his sidekick Enzo, dubbed “Magneto,” they also found a motorscooter and traffic signs at the portion of the Ourcq canal which cuts through a rapidly gentrifying area outside the ring road that surrounds Paris.

Around 15 of the most recent bikes were recovered by employees of the city's bike rental scheme Velib', while the others were lined up on the banks, draped in mud and weeds, under the shadow of a former mill recently renovated for office space.

Charret, a 20-year-old student who lives in the nearby suburb of Pavillon-sous-Bois, said that while the bike catch was unusual, it wasn't the most interesting item ever plucked by his magnet.

His favourites? “A bayonet from World War I and a revolver pistol from the era of Napoleon III,” he said.

Last year, he managed to snag two World War II shells, a find that prompted the intervention of a mine-removal team.

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TRAVEL

Striking workers block Paris airport terminal, flights delayed

Striking airport workers have blocked part Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport, with some flights already delayed by at least one hour.

Striking workers block Paris airport terminal, flights delayed
Striking airport workers outside Charles-de-Gaulle airport in Paris. Photo: Geoffroy van der Hasselt | AFP

Last month, trade unions representing workers at the Aéroports de Paris (ADP) – the city’s Charles-de-Gaulle-Roissy and Orly airports – called for a strike between July 1st and July 5th in an ongoing dispute between French airport workers and bosses over contract renegotiations.

A second wave of protests are expected next week, after a strike notice was filed for July 9th.

Tensions mounted on Friday morning as some 400 protesters staged a raucous demonstration at CDG’s terminal 2E, which mostly deals with flights outside the Schengen zone, as police officers looked on.

At Orly airport, meanwhile, some 250 people demonstrated “outside”, while a small group was inside.

The dispute is over a long-term plan by ADP to bring in new work contracts for employees at the airports, which unions say will lower pay, job losses and a reduction in rights and bonuses for employees.

The strike is being jointly called by the CGT, CFE-CGE, Unsa, CFDT and FO unions, who said in a joint press release that the proposals will “definitively remove more than a month’s salary from all employees and force them to accept geographical mobility that will generate additional commuting time”.

Unions say that staff face dismissal if they do not sign the new contracts.

ADP said on Wednesday that it expected ‘slight delays for some flights but no cancellations’ to services – but it urged travellers to follow its social media operations for real-time updates.

On Thursday, the first day of action, 30 percent of flights were delayed between 15 minutes and half-an-hour.

ADP’s CEO Augustin de Romanet had said on Tuesday that ‘everything would be done to ensure no flight is cancelled’. 

ADP reported a loss of €1.17 billion in 2020. 

Stressing that discussions are continuing over the proposed new contracts, the CEO called for “an effort of solidarity, with a red line: no forced layoffs.”

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