France strikes: Foul odour to linger over Paris for five more days as garbage dispute continues

Rubbish has not been collected for days in many parts of the French capital which hosts Euro 2016 opener Friday night

Will Worley
Friday 10 June 2016 13:49 BST
Soldiers pass by a pile of rubbish bags on the Grands boulevards in Paris, France
Soldiers pass by a pile of rubbish bags on the Grands boulevards in Paris, France (Reuters/Charles Platiau)

Garbage workers in Paris have vowed to continue their strike, with union leaders saying the mayor’s aim to have all rubbish cleared for the start of Euro 2016 on Friday was "a bit optimistic."

Waste has been piling up in the streets of the French capital as the city prepares to host the opening match of the football tournament between France and Romania.

Workers in the waste management sector, along with many others, are participating in demonstrations against the proposed reform of labour laws.

The city authorities have now enlisted private rubbish trucks to help clear the mess from the streets.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo said dozens of extra rubbish trucks are being used to clear the accumulated rubbish, which is becoming especially smelly in the warm, muggy weather.

"All the garbage will be collected today," she told local television on Friday, but admitted the clear up operation would take several days. She said 50 trucks had been working through Thursday night into Friday, and 30 more were dispatched on Friday morning.

However, with strikers blocking the entrance to the city’s main waste plant, options for rubbish disposal have become limited.

The mayor’s statement was "a bit optimistic," according to Baptiste Talbot of the CGT garbage collectors union.

He said that rubbish would have to be privately cleared and transported to plants where workers are not on strike.

However, Mr Talbot did not object to this measure, and said: “We want to maintain pressure with the strike, but we are sensitive to sanitary issues.”

Government officials are also concerned about hygiene. “We are extremely worried about the absence of cleanliness is several neighbourhoods,” said deputy mayor, Bruno Julliard, The Local reported.

Meanwhile, France's transport chief is threatening to force striking train drivers back to work to ensure transport for fans attending the soccer tournament.

Alain Vidalies, junior minister for transport, insisted there would be enough trains to the opening match. Railway and Metro authorities promised extra trains to bypass the strikers and carry 70,000 people to the stadium to watch France against Romania at the Stade de France at 9pm on Friday night.

But asked if the government would use special measures to force train drivers back to work for reasons of public order, Vidalies said on Europe-1 radio "we will do it" if transport problems worsen on Saturday.

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