Paris garbage strike ends after three weeks, workers clear tons of garbage

As pension protests continue across France, garbage collectors in Paris returned to work on Wednesday after striking since March 6 when mountains of rubbish piled up in the French capital.

Now back to work, collectors must grapple with the thousands of tons of rubbish left in the streets during the strike, along with fresh rubbish and rubbish from protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform bill, which passed without a parliamentary vote .

The law raises the retirement age from 62 to 64. Sanitation workers in Paris are also threatened with an increase in the pensionable age from 57 to 59.

Garbage levels on the streets of Paris peaked last week at over 10,000 tonnes, down from 6,600 tonnes on Tuesday night, with some refuse collection already resuming as the strike continued, according to French news channel CNews.

The city of Paris tweeted that as of Wednesday, 2:46 p.m. local time, another 800 tons of rubbish had been removed from the streets.

Some Parisians see the end of the strike and a possible drop in protest turnout as the beginning of the end of France’s opposition to the pension reform bill.

“People are fed up with it. There has been too much violence. Paris is a mess and I want to get on with normal life,” resident Amandine Betout, 32, told the Associated Press.

The union representing the Parisian refuse collectors, while stressing that the struggle is not over, acknowledged that they had run out of workers on the picket line.

“We need to discuss again with the representatives of the waste and sewage sector of the city of Paris in order to return to the strike more strongly … because we have almost no strikers left,” union CGT-FTDNEEA said in a statement translated by a computer.

This opinion was shared by garbage collector Jérôme Gaschard speaking to French television news channel BFM TV.

“I think there are no more strikers simply because a strike is very, very expensive financially. Purchasing power is in free fall. There we go [suspend the strike] for people to go back to work and recover financially,” Mr Gaschard told BFM TV, translated by a computer.

French unions have declared April 6 the 11th “day of action” in hopes of renewed protests across the country against Mr Macron’s law.

“We lost a battle, but we haven’t lost the war yet,” Mr Gaschard said.

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