Accumulation of garbage near the Arc de Triomphe, in the 8th district of Paris. Photo: AP – Thomas Padilla

This afternoon, the authorities pointed out that more than ten tons of garbage were accumulated in the streets of the capital. The public cleaning workers demand the beginning of a dialogue with the government, which remains inflexible to any type of negotiation involving the reform of the Social Security.

Earlier this week, with the increase in complaints from Parisians about the lack of urban cleanliness, ministers began to blame the mayor of the French capital, the socialist Anne Hidalgo. Members of the centre-right national government demanded that she resort to controversial “requisitions”, measures that oblige workers to withdraw from strikes to resolve an emergency situation.

However, Hidalgo refused to interfere with the mobilization of public cleaning agents. “The only possible response to resolve the current situation is to initiate social dialogue and not resort to a measure of force,” he justified, in a statement released on social media on Thursday (16).

Health and safety risks

The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, then decided to make the request directly to the Secretary of Public Security of Paris, Laurent Nuñez. French law allows the national government to overrule a decision by the prefecture if it considers that there are health and safety risks.

“I respect the strikes of public cleaning workers in Paris. However, unhealthy conditions are not acceptable”, claimed Darmanin.

According to him, the requests for garbage collectors began on Thursday night (16). “Since this morning [sexta] this measure is in action and allows the return of garbage collection”, he said, in an interview with French radio. RTL.

The minister indicated that the city of Paris was forced to hand over a list with the names of four thousand public cleaning employees, including drivers of garbage trucks, garbage collectors and garbage collectors. Security forces also claim to have unlocked access to a garbage dump occupied by strikers in Vitry-sur-Seine, on the outskirts of the capital.

However, the prefecture of Paris refutes the information. Members of the mayor’s office indicate, on anonymity, that no bins have been emptied in Parisian districts where garbage collection is carried out by municipal agents.

Collection is stopped in some neighborhoods

Since the beginning of the cleaning agents’ strike, the situation has varied according to each of the 20 districts of Paris. In some neighborhoods, garbage collection is carried out by private companies. In other places, such as the 9th district, in the center-north, the situation is even more complex: although the garbage collectors who work in the neighborhood are hired by the city hall, the garbage trucks are managed by private providers.

Household rubbish near Notre-Dame cathedral piling up on the sidewalk as waste pickers are on strike against the French government’s pension reform proposal. Photo: AFP – ALAIN JOCARD

In the 15th district, run by the right-wing party Os Republicanos, the garage where the trucks are parked was unlocked by police following a judge’s order. However, the place where the garbage is incinerated is still occupied by the strikers and is under the responsibility of the Metropolitan Union (Sytcom), chaired by the socialist Corentin Duprey. Like Anne Hidalgo, he refuses to stand in the way of mobilization.

Interviewed by the French press, representatives of the strikers guarantee that they will only return to work if the government agrees to dialogue.

Under the pension reform imposed by decree on Thursday, the minimum retirement age for public cleaning workers will be raised from 57 to 59 years. For the category, the idea is unacceptable.

According to the General Confederation of Labour, 95% of employees at the Ivry-sur-Seine depot and all the drivers of garbage trucks parked in the two largest municipal garages remain paralyzed.

The union centrals do not inform the total number of public cleaning workers on strike. In several other French cities, such as Rennes (northwest) and Nantes (west), garbage collectors also joined the movement.

Originally posted on RFI

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