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STRIKES

IN IMAGES: Rubbish piles up in streets of Paris as strike continues

Thousands of tonnes of rubbish remained on the streets of Paris on Monday, as garbage collectors pushed forward into an eighth day of strike action in protest against proposed pension reform.

IN IMAGES: Rubbish piles up in streets of Paris as strike continues
Household waste containers in a street of Paris that have been piling up since collectors went on strike against the French government's proposed pensions reform (Photo by Stefano RELLANDINI / AFP)

Monday marked the eighth day of the garbage workers’ strike against the pension reform, as mounds of garbage remained scattered along sidewalks across Paris and some other parts of the country.

After just one week of the strike action, there were at least 5,400 tonnes of uncollected rubbish on the sidewalks of the capital, according to an assessment by the Paris City Hall on Sunday.

Strike action has mostly hit France’s capital, but garbage collectors in other parts of the country, such as Rennes, have also walked out.

“What will stop the strike is that Emmanuel Macron withdraws his reform. If this is the case, then Paris will become clean very quickly. We know how to do that”, Régis Vieceli, the head of the CGT branch representing garbage workers, told French daily Le Parisien

On Monday, unions called for strike action to continue until at least Wednesday, March 15th, which is the same day that the country’s eight largest union federations have called for another day of mass strikes and demos.

Workers will then vote to decide whether to continue rolling strike action.

READ MORE: Calendar: The latest French pension strike dates to remember 

As of Monday, the city’s main three incineration plants – located in Ivry-sur-Seine (shown in the image below), Issy-les-Moulineaux and Saint-Ouen – were still at a standstill. 

The capital’s household waste agency Syctom (Syndicat mixte central de traitement des ordures ménagères) told AFP that 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.

Strike action has hit about half of Paris’ districts, such as the 2nd, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 17th and 20th arrondissements.

It is publicly employed garbage workers (Ville de Paris in the map below) – responsible for waste collection across half of the city – who have walked out.

The other half of the districts, including the 7th arrondisement as shown in the image below, are managed by private service providers.

The CGT union representing garbage collectors and drivers told AFP that workers in this sector 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 told AFP.

READ MORE: What next for France’s controversial pension reform bill?

Reactions from politicians 

Several left-wing politicians have taken to social media to support the garbage collectors’ strike, with some members of the France Unbowed party have mobilised to offer €20,000 in support for the employees’ strike fund.

Meanwhile those on the opposite side of the political spectrum have begun calling on Paris’ mayor, Anne Hidalgo, to step in.

The mayor of Paris 17th arrondisement and member of the centre-right Les Republicains party, Geoffroy Boulard, wrote a letter to Hidalgo asking that the district be allowed to use a private garbage collection provider.

Others, like Rachida Dati, the mayor of Paris 7th district, have called on Hidalgo to allow for “an integration of private companies” to support and ensure minimum services during strikes. 

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STRIKES

LATEST: The transport strikes that will hit passengers in Europe this summer

Inflation is pushing unions across Europe to demand new pay hikes, raising the risk of train and airplane strikes this summer. This rundown will help you plan ahead to know if your holiday plans will be affected.

LATEST: The transport strikes that will hit passengers in Europe this summer

Italy 

Italy’s unions this week announced plans for strikes in both June and July. 

On June 18th, security staff at Milan’s Malpensa Airport will strike for four hours from 11am to 3pm. 

Then on June 20th, baggage handling staff at airports all around the country will take part in a 24-hour walkout. Ground staff at a number of Italian airports, including Rome’s Fiumicino Airport, Milan Malpensa Airport and the Amerigo Vespucci Airport in Florence will also hold separate protests on the day. 

On July 15th, staff at ENAV, Italy’s main air traffic control operator, will take part in a national 24-hour strike. 

So far there are few details of which flights will be affected by these strikes, but they are very likely to cause disruption. 

Anyone travelling between Italy and the UK, should also be aware of the security staff strikes at Heathrow Airport which will affect British Airlines flights to Florence, Rome, Milan and Venice on most weekends between mid-June and the end of August. 

READ ALSO: The transport strikes to expect in Italy in summer 2023

Spain 

On June 7th the Spanish Union of Airline Pilots (Sepla) called for strikes against Air Europa, Spain’s third largest airline, over the “confrontational attitude” of the company’s management. 

The union gave no details of exactly which days the strikes would take place in its press release, but they will happen between June 19th and July 2nd. 

Air Europa operates flights within Spain, and to destinations across Europe and the world, including Germany, France, the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, and Switzerland.

The Sepla union also on June 6th launched a “daily indefinite strike” against Air Nostrum, the regional airline run by Iberia. The strike has forced the cancellation of 20 percent of the airlines flights and also delayed other flights. 

The strike is taking place between Monday and Friday every day of the week and there are no signs of a breakthrough in talks so far. 

People flying between Spain and the UK using either British Airways or Iberia should be aware that security staff at Heathrow airport are striking almost every weekend (and some other days as well), causing major disruption at Terminal 5 and Terminal, which are used by Iberia and British Airways. 

Flights from Edinburgh to Spain may also be affected by strikes there. 

France 

So far no big airline or air traffic control strikes have been announced by the French unions to follow on from the one-day action on June 6th that saw around 20 percent of flights in and out of France, and some flights just flying over France, cancelled. 

It’s not impossible, however, that unions will call for further action, even though turnout for the nationwide strikes over pension reform has recently been falling, making it look like the battle over pension reform may be reaching its final stages. 

The pattern so far as has been for the inter-syndicale, the federation that represents all eight French unions, to wait until one strike day is over before announcing the next, so there could well be announcements in the coming weeks. 

The summer holidays in France traditionally mark a break in mass strike actions, but they are often a time for industrial action from specific unions – especially those involved in the flight and tourist industries.

Travellers to and from France from the UK should be aware of the security staff strikes at Heathrow Airport which will affect British Airlines flights to Paris, Toulouse, Nice, and Mulhouse airports on some dates. There is also potential for a strike at Edinburgh Airport, which could affect flights to France run by several airlines, including Air France.

Germany 

So far no strikes have been announced in Germany which will affect transport, but EVG, the union that represents workers for 50 train companies has reached a deadlock in its negotiations with Deutsche Bahn. 

The two sides are far apart, with Deutsche Bahn suggesting a 12 percent pay hike over two years, while EVG wants the same rise over 12 months.  This means there is a real risk of strikes over the summer. 

On June 2nd, the union threatened further industrial action if DB refused to come back to negotiations. “If nothing happens at the negotiating table, we have to apply pressure with #Warnstreiks,” it tweeted.

If the union does hold warning strikes before the next round of talks, they are likely to last for only a few days. 

Lufthansa pilots, who went on strike last year, in September agreed in a pay deal not to strike until June 2023, leaving the possibility of a renewed round of strikes later in the summer. 

The two main unions representing airport security workers, meanwhile, Verdi and the German Civil Service Federation, reached a pay deal on May 17th. 

Travellers to and from Germany from the UK, should be aware of the security staff strikes at Heathrow Airport which will affect British Airlines flights to Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Munich, Düsseldorf, Hanover, and Berlin. Flights to Germany from Edinburgh Airport could also be affected by the strikes announced there. 

READ ALSO: When will the next set of rail strikes take place in Germany?

The United Kingdom

The UK is the county most affected by strike action this year with a busy schedule of strikes planned at London Heathrow airport, and strikes announced at Edinburgh Airport. 

The Unite union at the start of June announced a total of 31 days of strikes over the summer for security staff at Heathrow Airport outside London,  with walkouts almost every weekend from mid-June to the end of August.

The strikes will involve as many as 2,000 security officers working at both Terminal Three and Terminal Five, as well as Campus Security responsible for checking all personnel and vehicles going over to the runway side of the airport.

European travellers flying with British Airways and the Spanish flag carrier Iberia are the most likely to be affected. 

Iberia flies non-stop from Terminal 5 to Barcelona, Madrid, Palma de Mallorca, and Málaga.

British Airways, meanwhile, flies non-stop from Terminal 5 to Paris, Toulouse, Nice, and Mulhouse airports in France, to Geneva and Zurich in Switzerland, to Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Munich, Düsseldorf, Hanover, and Berlin in Germany, to Copenhagen in Denmark, Gothenburg and Stockholm in Sweden, to Oslo in Norway, and to Florence, Rome, Milan and Venice in Italy

British Airways also operates some flights from Terminal 3, including to Bastia in France, Gibraltar, Naples in Italy, Billund in Denmark, Vienna in Austria, and, outside of the country’s covered by The Local, to the cities of Porto, Pristina, Pura, and Tirana. 

Other airlines based in Terminal 3, such as Virgin Atlantic. American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, and Qantas mainly offer long-haul flights outside of Europe. 

The workers will be on strike between June 24th and and 30th, and then between July 14th to July 16th, then from July 21st to July 24th, then from July 28th to 31st, and then from August 4th to 7th, 11th to 14th, 18th to 20th, and 24th to 27th.

Staff at Edinburgh Airport represented by the Unite union voted at the end of May to take strike action over pay and working conditions by an 85 percent majority but the union has yet to set dates. 

Edinburgh is the busiest airport in Scotland, with direct flights to most major cities in Europe, operated by Air France, British Airways, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, EasyJet, Iberia, Ryanair, Norwegian and SAS, among others. 

Sweden 

After major pilot strikes in the summer of 2022 and rail strikes this May, Sweden looks set for a conflict-free summer when it comes to travel into, out of, and around the country. 

Travellers to and from Sweden from the UK should be aware, though, of the security staff strikes at Heathrow Airport which will affect British Airlines flights to Gothenburg and Stockholm on most weekends between mid-June and the end of August. 

Denmark

The ongoing dispute between unions and Naviair, the state-owned company that employs Denmark’s air traffic controllers, has yet to be fully resolved, although Naviair on May 16th issued a plan for the summer,which it says will minimise delays and disruption. 

The plan prioritises travellers and and airlines at Copenhagen Airport, meaning flights to and from Roskilde Airport are likely to be reduced. 

Flights between Copenhagen and Greenland could be affected by strikes from June 23rd after Dansk Metal, which represents mechanics working for the airline, failed to reach a pay deal on May 23rd. 

Travellers to and from Sweden from the UK should be aware of the security staff strikes at Heathrow Airport which will affect British Airlines flights to Copenhagen on most weekends between mid-June and the end of August. 

Norway 

Travel into, out of, and around Norway looks to be unaffected by strikes this summer. 

Travellers between Norway and the UK, should be aware, however, of the security staff strikes at Heathrow Airport which will affect British Airlines flights to Oslo on most weekends between mid-June and the end of August. Flights from Edinburgh Airport to cities in Norway may also be affected to the strikes announced there. 

Austria 

Travel into, out of, and around Austria looks to be unaffected by strikes this summer. 

Travellers between Austria from the UK, should be aware of the security staff strikes at Heathrow Airport which will affect British Airlines flights to Vienna on most weekends between mid-June and the end of August. 

Switzerland 

There are no strike plans that The Local are aware of directly affecting Swiss airlines or rail companies, but flights to and from Switzerland were affected by the strikes by France’s air traffic controllers on June 6th, and may be affected again if those strikes resume over the summer. 

Travellers between Switzerland and the UK should be aware, though, of the security staff strikes at Heathrow Airport which will affect British Airlines flights to Geneva and Zurich on most weekends between mid-June and the end of August. 

This story will be updated as and when further strikes are announced.

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