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Rubbish piles up in strike-bound Paris

Thousands of tonnes of garbage have piled up on streets across the French capital after a week of strike action by dustbin collectors against government pension reforms, city hall said Sunday.

Rubbish collectors of the Paris municipality cleaning service
Rubbish collectors of the Paris municipality cleaning service "Proprete de Paris" gather in front of Ivry incinerator factory, in Ivry on March 6, 2023, ahead of the massive strikes from March 7 against the French government's proposed pension reform, with unions promising to bring the country "to a standstill". Photo: Thomas SAMSON / AFP

Three incineration plants outside the capital have been hit by the work stoppages that have left entire pavements covered in black bags and overflowing bins.

The capital’s household waste agency Syctom said it has been re-routing dustbin lorries to other storage and treatment sites in the region and has yet to resort to calling in the police.

City hall employees have for the last week been picking up rubbish in just half of Paris’s districts. The strike has hit some of the most exclusive areas including the 5th, 6th and 16th arrondissements.

Other districts are served by private firms which have not gone on strike.

According to the hard-left CGT union, refuse collectors and drivers can currently retire from 57 years of age, but would face another two years of work under the reform plans which still grant early retirement for those who faced tough working conditions.

Life expectancy for the garbage workers is 12-17 years below the average for the country as a whole, the CGT says.
 
Out on the streets, 18-year-old student Christophe Mouterde told AFP the dustbin collectors were among “the first victims of this reform… often they have started work young… in a job that’s more difficult than for other people in offices”.
 
Pastry chef Romain Gaia, who works in the 2nd district where bins are not being collected, said, “It’s terrible, there’s rats and mice.”
 
 
But he still offered support for the garbage workers despite the smelly mountains of rubbish nearby.
 
“They are quite right to strike,” said the 36-year-old. “Normally they have no power, but if they stop work they really have (power).”
 
The reform’s headline measure and the cornerstone policy of President Emmanuel Macron’s second term in office is a hike in the general minimum retirement age to 64 from 62, seen by many as unfair to people who start working early.
 
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POLITICS

‘Not right moment’ for France to recognise Palestinian state: FM

France has said recognising a Palestinian state was not "taboo", but Paris considers that now is not the right moment for it to do so.

'Not right moment' for France to recognise Palestinian state: FM

The comments came after Norway, Ireland and Spain announced they will recognise a Palestinian state from May 28, sparking delight from Palestinian leaders and fury from Israel.

“Our position is clear: the recognition of a Palestinian state is not a taboo for France,” Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne wrote in a statement to AFP.

“This decision must be useful, that is to say allow a decisive step forward on the political level,” he added.

“France does not consider that the conditions have been present to date for this decision to have a real impact in this process,” he said.

For decades, the formal recognition of a Palestinian state has been seen as the endgame of a peace process between Palestinians and their Israeli neighbours.

The United States and most Western European nations have said they are willing to one day recognise Palestinian statehood, but not before agreement is reached on thorny issues like final borders and the status of Jerusalem.

But after Hamas’s October 7 attacks and Israel’s retaliatory campaign in Gaza, diplomats are reconsidering once-contentious ideas.

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