March 25, 2023

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Pensions: the garbage collectors’ strike becomes a political issue in Paris


And if the trash cans piling up in the streets became the symbol of the protest against the pension reform, more than the stations emptied of their travelers? The question of the tons of household waste left lying flat in several cities, starting with Paris, is becoming more and more political. In the capital, the movement began on March 6 and the municipal garbage collectors, who deal with several districts, have decided to continue the movement until March 20. Some 7,600 tons of waste are piling up in the streets.

The strike also affects incineration centers. Spectacular images of streets cluttered with garbage cans go around the world and make headlines in the international press. 500 days before the opening of the Olympic Games, they give an unglamorous image of Paris.

Gérald Darmanin wants a requisition

Anne Hidalgo, the PS mayor of Paris, supports the strike movement and has decided not to carry out requisitions, a solution which she had nevertheless retained during the social movement of 2016, when the municipal garbage collectors had joined the challenge against the labor law of the government of Manuel Valls.

Gérald Darmanin, the Minister of the Interior, puts pressure on him and has even moved up a gear. Tuesday at the end of the day, he asked the town hall to requisition. The Prefecture of Police refers to the General Code of Territorial Communities and considers that “the town hall holds the safety police on the public highway”.

The mayor of Paris opposed him on Wednesday evening an end of inadmissibility, placing himself on a very political ground, that of pension reform; and not on that of the law. “The situation you mention is entirely attributable to the government’s desire to legislate to raise the legal retirement age. […] The claim of the garbage collectors of the City of Paris, who legitimately wish not to work for two more years and who are mobilizing to oppose it, is just,” she wrote in response to Gérald Darmanin.

She concludes that she will not respond to the “requests” of the executive. The town hall and the government blame each other for the disastrous images of the capital, against a backdrop of discontent from residents and traders, and amazement from tourists.

Clément Beaune and Olivia Grégoire step up to the plate

It was enough for the leaders of the majority, in particular those who have views on the City of Paris in 2026, such as Clément Beaune or Olivia Grégoire, to step up against Anne Hidalgo. They accuse him of instrumentalizing the movement and of favoring his partisan interests over his duties as mayor of Paris.

“When there is a strike in a city, there is a question of public health and public sanitation. It is not the garbage collectors’ strike that is a problem for me, it is Anne Hidalgo who is striking herself, she does nothing, ”said Clément Beaune, Minister of Transport and elected representative of Paris, on France 2.

Olivia Grégoire is not left out. “Let the mayor of Paris have her political opinions, very good. That she supports the garbage collectors who are on strike, fine. That she confuses, on the other hand, her political opinion with questions of public health, that is not acceptable, ”she denounced on RMC.

In what also looks like a communication war, the main thing is not to appear to be responsible for the inconvenience caused to Parisians. “The political responsibility lies with the mayor of Paris. She explained that she supported the movement. So, that means that she assumes it in the name of the commune of Paris, and that she imposes on Parisians and Parisians the consequences of this, ”said Olivier Véran, the government spokesperson, at the exit. of the Council of Ministers.