Strikes in France: the streets of Paris are littered with uncollected waste

Paris (CNN) The City of Lights has a waste problem.

Massive strikes in Paris against pension reform this week are affecting refuse collection services in the French capital, with piles of rubbish in many of the city’s normally picturesque streets, including a short walk from landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.

On Saturday, around 4,400 tonnes of waste were awaiting collection, said a spokeswoman for the Paris town hall. The spokeswoman said the problem is a blockage of waste incinerators caused by the strikes. Garbage trucks have therefore been unable to pick up the waste in much of the city because they have nowhere to put it.

Not all neighborhoods were equally affected. The town hall is in charge of the collection of household waste in half of the 20 arrondissements of Paris. Private contractors are responsible for the remaining 10.

Garbage cans overflow Saturday in the streets of Paris.

Municipal services like garbage collection in Paris have been hit since Tuesday, when strikes saw flights and trains canceled and delayed; oil refiners blocked; closed schools; and left thousands without power. The French capital has been the hardest hit, with nearly 60% of its primary school teachers walking off the job and the local metro forced to cut service at all but the busiest hours.

Massive protests have been staged regularly across France since January 19, with more than a million people turning out to express their opposition to the government’s plan to raise the official retirement age for most workers. as part of reforms to the government’s pension system, one of the most generous in Europe.

On Saturday, around 4,400 tonnes of waste were waiting to be picked up in the streets of Paris, a spokeswoman for the town hall said.

President Emmanuel Macron’s government says the changes are necessary to make the system financially stable.

The accumulation of waste in Paris has raised concerns for the health of Parisians and local politicians. The mayor of the 17th arrondissement, Geoffroy Boulard, said in an interview with CNN affiliate BFMTV that he had asked the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, to hire a private service provider to intervene.

“We can’t wait,” he said. “It’s a matter of public health.”

Boulard also expressed concern about the proliferation of rats and rodents as well as the image of Paris.

Another local mayor, Jean-Pierre Lecoq of the 6th arrondissement, asked Hidalgo to intervene in an open letter he posted on Twitter.

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