The pension reform planned by President Emmanuel Macron stinks for many French people - and the mountains of garbage that have been growing for a week are an impressive expression of this negative attitude. Around 70 percent of the French are opposed to raising the retirement age from 62 to 64, which will be particularly difficult for people in arduous jobs. They include the garbage disposal workers, which is why many of them have been on strike for a good week. As of Monday, around 5,600 tons of rubbish had accumulated on the streets of Paris. "It's disgusting, there are rats everywhere," says Aphaia Samios, who is sitting in a sidewalk café on busy Montorgueil shopping street. Your view is obstructed by several piles of rubbish. "Some people can hardly get in their front door anymore," she says.
International tourists are also surprised or horrified at the overflowing trash cans and plastic trash bags, which keep piling up and sometimes bursting open. Rain showers over the weekend soaked the rubbish and increased the odor nuisance. "I wanted to go on a romantic trip with my boyfriend, but the garbage spoils the whole charm of the city," says Claudia Harmand, a German visitor to Paris near the Opéra Garnier. "It stinks and you have to slalom around the mountains of rubbish," she added. US tourist Mark doesn't have much sympathy for the strikes. "It's unsanitary and not good for tourism," he says. "The retirement age has been much higher here for a long time. If the retirement age has to be raised because otherwise there would be no money, then the strikes won't help either," he says.
In Paris, private and municipal companies share the garbage collection. Currently, the districts in which the municipal garbage disposal is in use are particularly affected. But the strikes are not only hampering the collection of rubbish, but also its disposal, as three incinerators around Paris are also blocked. "We are outside every day and work, whether it rains, snows or storms," says Nabil Latreche, a 44-year-old garbage man, describing his work. "If you stand on the back of the garbage truck, you breathe in a lot of harmful gases. The work is very tiring," he explains. "I'm already aware that when I get older I'll be poor," says Murielle Gaeremynck, a 56-year-old who has been a garbage collector for two decades. She reports falls from trucks, chronic inflammation and back problems due to the lack of suspension in the smaller garbage trucks.
Watch the video: Hundreds of thousands demonstrate against pension reform in France.
The socialist Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo expressed her solidarity with the garbage disposal workers. The city of Paris points out that other cities are also affected by the garbage workers' strike. The government emphasizes that the reform takes account of people who started working particularly early or who have arduous jobs. Garbage disposal workers can currently retire at the age of 57, after the reform they would have to work until they were 59. Many employees think that is too long. They want to continue striking for the time being, even if the chances of stopping the reform are slim. The mediation committee is scheduled to consider the bill on Wednesday. The government is hoping for a final vote on Thursday.