Desperate France tells binmen they will be JAILED if they do not end strike and clean up Paris after ten-day action left the capital ‘smelling of rotten fish’

  • There was around 7,600 tonnes of rubbish on the streets of Paris by Wednesday
  • The city has been left with the stench or rotten fish after 10 days of strike action

Striking Paris binmen are facing prison if they refuse to clean up the French capital following a build-up of 8,000 tonnes of rubbish.

Police ‘requisitioned’ municipal workers on Thursday, saying that if they carried on with their protest against Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms they would be prosecuted.

It follows 10 straight days of strike action by the binmen who – like millions of others across France – are furious at plans to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

Rubbish collectors have run one of the few rolling strikes against the changes, where other sectors have held successive one-day walkouts accompanying mass demonstrations. 

According to city hall figures, around 7,600 tonnes of rubbish were piled on the streets of Paris by Wednesday, leaving the city with a stench of rotten fish.

There was around 7,600 tonnes of rubbish on the streets of Paris by Wednesday

Piled up rubbish bags are left on the street in front of to Eiffel Tower

Rubbish bags are left on the street in front of the French Arc de Triomphe, during the garbage collectors’ strike

Police chief Laurent Nunez late Wednesday informed Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo – who sides with the workers – that the government would use its power to ‘requisition’ striking trash collectors, forcing them back to work under threat of prosecution.

In a strongly worded letter, he said he wanted a list of agents under her authority to be ‘transmitted to me without delay,’ and then they would go back to work.

Those who remain on strike face six months in prison and fine equivalent to £9,000.

Mr Nunez added: ‘The concentration of trash, including food, in certain streets of Paris, runs risks to the population, in that it hinders pedestrians.

‘It also poses a public hygiene problem, and promotes the proliferation of rats, which transmit diseases.’

But the move has caused fury at the Ville de Paris – Paris City Hall – which is run by Left wing politicians. 

Both backers of President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist government and the French right have hammered Hidalgo and the strikers with fears they are endangering public health and disappointing the capital’s swarms of tourists.

But Hidalgo, the Socialist mayor, said she was fully behind the strikers, and refused to help the police. 

People pass by next to garbage cans overflowing with trash in Paris

A protester holds a placard reading ‘Long live Parisian garbage men’ as thousands of people participate in a new demonstration against the government’s reform of the pension system in Paris

Uncollected garbages are pictured near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris

Household waste near the Notre-Dame cathedral has been piling up on the pavement as waste collectors are on strike

According to city hall figures, around 7,600 tonnes of rubbish were piled on the streets of Paris by Wednesday, leaving the city with a stench of rotten fish

‘I’m well aware of the inconvenience caused by the current crisis to residents, traders and visitors,’ Hidalgo said.

‘But this is all the fault of the government, who want to legislate to push the legal retirement age up.’

Ms Hidalgo told the Police Prefect: ‘I inform you that I will not follow up on your request’.

Workers walked off the job in protest against Macron’s plans to reform the pension system, with headline measures of raising the legal retirement age to 64 and increasing the number of years people must pay in to receive a full pension.

‘The demand of Paris rubbish collectors, who don’t want to work for two years longer… is fair,’ Hidalgo added.

‘The only answer that could calm the current climate is social dialogue, rather than a test of strength,’ she added.

Private waste collection company Derichebourg said Wednesday that it would stop filling in for city binmen after it was threatened with pickets on its depots.

MPs are set to vote in a knife-edge ballot on the draft law on Thursday, with Macron’s camp still unsure they can get it over the line.

The hard-left CGT trade union federation claimed 1.7 million people hit the streets in a nationwide protest against the proposed pension reforms on Wednesday, while the interior ministry’s count was 480,000. 

A woman walks past uncollected garbage in Paris

Garbage cans are overflowing with trash on the streets as collectors go on strike in Paris

People walk past uncollected garbage in Paris, amid strikes over a contentious bill that would raise the retirement age in France from 62 to 64

Garbage collectors have joined the massive strikes in France against the government’s pension reform plans

Thousands of tonnes of garbage have piled up on streets across the French capital after a week of strike action by dustbin collectors

President Macron was locked in meeting with parliamentary representatives on Thursday, as he pushed for the National Assembly and Senate to pass his reforms.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has said she hopes the government will not need to resort to an emergency constitutional option that would force the pension reform through without a vote.

Ms Borne has used that mechanism 10 times before, and invoking it for the retirement issue could trigger a no-confidence motion in Mr Macron’s government.

The flagship legislation has caused weeks of strikes and street protests, many of which have descended into violence.

Mr Macron says it is essential to bring France in line with other European countries including Britain, where the current retirement age can be as high as 68.

But many French argue that their country’s entire identify is based on a more relaxed social system that values quality of life as highly as economic production.

Recent polls show that some 70 per cent of the country is against raising the retirement age.

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