Garbage bags, rubbish and other boxes have been piling up on the sidewalks, in front of shops and apartment buildings, for several days in large cities. Following the call of the inter-union to “put France to a stop”, garbage collectors no longer collect garbage to mark their opposition to the pension reform.
Collection services are stopped in Saint Brieuc, Marseille, Nantes, Rennes and Le Havre. In Paris, after ten days of strike, more than 7,600 tons of waste accumulate in the streets. And it’s not about to stop. Tuesday, March 14, the garbage collectors CGT strikers voted to continue the movement “at least until March 20”.
The situation made international headlines. The tourists are disappointed, the residents inconvenienced but many also support the movement. “80% of people who call our services to complain about the pile up of their garbage tell us all the same that they understand our commitment”, declares Mathias Mauduit, deputy secretary general of CGT 22 (comment reported by Le Penthièvre).
On the night of Tuesday March 14, the Paris City Hall began to call on private companies to try to unclog the streets in certain sectors. At the microphone of TF1, Emmanuel Grégoire, first deputy to the Paris City Hall, declared: “We are not breaking the strike. We can only manage emergency situations. Out of 30,000 tons [deposited in the streets in ten days ], we picked up 23,000.”
However, the government accuses Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, of supporting the movement to the detriment of the inhabitants. “It’s not the garbage collectors’ strike that worries me so much, it’s that it’s Anne Hidalgo who is striking herself. She does nothing”, vilified Clément Beaune, Minister of Transport, on France 2 .
The government then decided, Wednesday, March 15, to appeal to the Paris police headquarters. By order of the Minister of the Interior, striking garbage collectors are requisitioned to collect garbage cans. Thursday, March 16, the town hall sent the list of 4,000 agents to the prefecture. In the event of refusal, the garbage collectors concerned risk six months’ imprisonment and a fine of 10,000 euros, according to Le Figaro.
In May 1968, garbage collectors also joined the protest movement. At the time, according to La Croix, “9000 tons of waste” cluttered the streets of Paris. In Marseille, the army was even requisitioned to collect garbage, according to INA.
Is the current movement comparable to that of May 68? Back in pictures on the challenge of garbage collectors in recent days.