The Hamilton Spectator

In Paris streets, heaps of garbage become a symbol for protest

Strike by collectors is taking its toll on esthetics of French capital


Garbage. Heaps, mounds and piles of it are growing daily — and in some places standing higher than a human being.

A strike by Paris garbage collectors, which began its 16th day Tuesday, is taking a toll on the renowned esthetics of the French capital, a veritable blight on the City of Light.

“I prefer Chanel to the stink,” joked Vincent Salazar, a 62-yearold artistic consultant who lives in a tony Left Bank neighbourh­ood. A pile of garbage sits at the corner of his building overlookin­g the Luxembourg Gardens.

“I’ve seen rats,” he said.

But, like many nonchalant and strike-hardened Parisians, Salazar doesn’t mind.

“I’m fortunate to live here, but I’m 200 per cent behind these guys,” Salazar said. “They’re smelling it all day long,” he said, though “it” wasn’t the word he used. “They should get early retirement.”

He is among the majority of French who, polls show, oppose President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to raise the retirement age by two years, from 62 to 64 for most and from 57 to 59 for garbage collectors.

Macron rammed the showcase legislatio­n of his second term through Parliament last week — without a vote, thanks to a special constituti­onal article.

On Monday, the government won two no-confidence motions put forth by angry lawmakers. The bill is now considered adopted.

But garbage got wrapped up in the politics.

And neither unions organizing protests nor some citizens are prepared to back down.

Posters showing digitally altered images of Macron atop a garbage heap — or collecting garbage himself — have made the rounds on social networks.

The Socialist mayor of Paris, who supports the strikers, found herself in a bind.

City hall refused orders to get the trucks out, saying it’s not their job. Police Chief Laurent Nunez then ordered garages unblocked and ordered 674 sanitation personnel and 206 garbage trucks back to work to provide a minimal service, police tweeted Tuesday.

City hall said that, as of Monday, 8,440 tonnes of rubbish remained on the streets.

I prefer Chanel to the stink.


 ?? MICHEL EULER THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? A cyclist rides past an uncollecte­d garbage pile next to a café in Paris on Tuesday.
MICHEL EULER THE ASSOCIATED PRESS A cyclist rides past an uncollecte­d garbage pile next to a café in Paris on Tuesday.

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