France strikes: Parisian streets left littered with uncollected rubbish

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

Massive strikes in Paris against pension reform this week are affecting waste collection services in the French capital, with piles of rubbish lining many of the city’s normally picturesque streets, including those just steps from monuments such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.

As of Saturday, about 4,400 tons of waste were waiting to be collected, a spokeswoman for the Paris mayor’s office said. The spokeswoman said the problem is a blockage at waste incinerators caused by the strikes. Garbage trucks have thus been unable to collect waste in large parts of the city because they have nowhere to put it.

Not all neighborhoods have been hit equally. The municipal government is responsible for waste collection in half of Paris’ 20 arrondissements. Private contractors are responsible for the other 10.

On Saturday, trash cans are seen overflowing in the streets of Paris.

Municipal services such as garbage collection in Paris have been affected since Tuesday, when strikes saw flights and trains canceled and delayed; blocked oil refineries; schools closed; and left thousands without electricity. The French capital was worst hit, with nearly 60% of its primary school teachers walking out and the local metro forced to cut service to all but the busiest times.

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

As of Saturday, about 4,400 tons of trash were waiting to be picked up on the streets of Paris, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office said.

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

The waste build-up in Paris has given rise to health problems among Parisians and local politicians. The mayor of the 17th arrondissement, Geoffroy Boulard, said in an interview with CNN affiliate BFMTV that he has asked Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo to hire a private service provider to intervene.

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

Boulard said he is also concerned about the spread of rats and rodents, as well as Paris’s image.

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

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