September 22, 2023

Westside People

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Events in Paris | Pension reform leaves a bad smell in the air

(Paris) A putrid smell has gradually taken over Paris in recent days. Light, but very real.

Garbage bags have been piling up on sidewalks since March 7; You have to learn to slalom there. In front of buildings, garbage in hand, people try to find a small space for their packaging, leftover food, everything that can no longer be stored at home.

“I break down all the boxes we have piled up, but I know I can’t put them all on the street, there’s no room! », 12-year-old shopkeeper Amelie lamentse arrondissement.

Parisians are learning to appreciate the essential work of garbage collectors. Like many others, 2,500 men and women are on strike emptying their tanks. And around 10,000 tonnes of waste is waiting on the pavement.

Photo by Julien de Rosa, Agence France-Presse

A protester pushes a dustbin into a pile of burnt waste in Paris.

For them, 68% of French people (according to a recent survey), there is no question of allowing Emmanuel Macron and his government to pass the desired pension reform. The majority union (CGT FTDNEEA) pledges that “we will bring to our knees those who want to kill us on the job, together with all striking workers and all industries.”

“Garbage collectors going on strike could affect all Parisians, including those who rarely see the effects of mobilization in the center of the capital, believes Leo, a young Parisian. It’s good that the discontent that could not have arisen during the presidential election campaign. It shows that people are worried about this reform. »

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10,000 tonnes of open waste

A key move on Emmanuel Macron’s campaign agenda, pension reform has crystallized all the tensions in France in recent weeks. If the 20 articles in the text are meant to overhaul pension funding, it is article 7 that has raised the ire of workers, extending the period of authorized departure and contribution to retirement by two years – from 62 to 64 years. Hard and dangerous industries are the first announced losers from this reform.

The garbage collectors’ strike highlights, more than anything else, the deep divisions that exist among the French. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and her left wing support the fight against reform. ” [Les éboueurs] Were you there when you were locked in March 2020! Today they exist to allow food markets to continue! So thank you to the agents, thank you for the mobilization, congratulations for what they are doing for themselves and for others,” said Colombe Brosel, deputy mayor of Paris for public space cleanliness, sorting, waste reduction, recycling and recycling. Used again at the last Paris Council.

One of the most famous markets in Paris is Aligre (12e District), a market gardener admits: “We have big bins for our waste and it’s not a problem. But it’s true that it’s hell around the market. Yesterday, they came to take some and it left streaks…”

Tanks as barriers

Nevertheless, after experiencing rejection from Anne Hidalgo – “the situation […] Due entirely to the government’s desire to legislate to raise the retirement age” – the Chancellor of Paris decided to request some agents to clean the sidewalks. A few tipper trucks wander the streets, unable to handle the scale of the situation on their own.

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But sewage treatment plants are still clogged and inaccessible.

On Friday, Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne used her ultimate weapon: Article 49.3 of the constitution, which allows a bill to be passed without a vote in the National Assembly, without risking it being rejected.

Photo Gonzalo Fuentes, Reuters

Demonstrators gathered at the Place de la Concorde on the banks opposite the Bourbon Palace.

This was enough to infuriate the French who opposed the reform. An improvised demonstration followed the speech on March 17 at the Place de la Concorde, opposite the headquarters of the National Assembly. The burning of rubbish bins served as a deterrent: there was little air of revolution in Paris.

Crowds are also growing elsewhere in France.

Because all is not lost.

Deputies can still vote for a motion of censure against the government. If 287 of the 577 representatives agree, the government will have to resign. The main vote will be held on Monday.

Meanwhile, Paris province has banned all gatherings on Place de la Concorde and Avenue des Champs-Élysées to avoid clashes over the weekend.

On Saturday March 18, Parisian demonstrators had to find another rallying point. This is the Place d’Italia (13e borough) meeting was given at 6 p.m. A chance to restock the population a week earlier, it promises to be built up by daily gatherings.

The union has called for a mass demonstration on Thursday, March 23. Place de la Bastille (4e arrondissement). “We cannot close the strike. Every time there is a demonstration, we lose half of our income,” he says.

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Even more relevant is the Paris garbage collectors’ strike announcement. At waste treatment plants, the strategy has changed. No more dams, but dams to be drained. Only 80 dump trucks enter every day, compared to 400 during normal times.

So a delicious week is yet to be announced for the rats of the French capital. They delight in bags, demonstrators now know, and smoke easily.