Paris rubbish strike ends as pension protest turnout falls

Paris rubbish strike ends as pension protest turnout falls
Demonstrators walk past burning rubbish bins during a demonstration in Paris (Thibault Camus/AP)

Sanitation workers in Paris were set to return to work to clear the heaps of rubbish that have piled up over their weeks-long strike as protests against French president Emmanuel Marcon’s controversial pension Bill appeared to be winding down.

Rubbish mounds of up to 10,000 tonnes along the French capital’s streets — reportedly equal to the weight of the Eiffel Tower — have become a striking visual symbol of opposition to Mr Marcon’s Bill raising the retirement age from 62 to 64.

Clean-up crews were set to start collecting debris from the streets following fresh anti-pension reform protests a day earlier.

A man jogs past uncollected rubbish bags in Paris (Thomas Padilla/AP)

CGT, the union representing sanitation workers, said its three-week-long strike was over on Wednesday. They would join others who were legally requisitioned earlier to help with the clean-up.

“It’s good that the trash is collected. It’s very unsanitary, and some residents already have trouble with rats and mice. It can be dangerous if it’s left too long,” artist Gil Franco, 73, said.

The dwindling number of protesters is seen by some as the beginning of the end of demonstrations against the pension Bill.

A man lies on the pavement after riot police officers charged during a demonstration in Paris (Christophe Ena/AP)

“People are getting tired of it. There has been too much violence. Paris is a mess, and I want to get on with normal life,” resident Amandine Betout, 32, said.

Tuesday’s protests in Paris saw dozens of arrests and flare-ups of violence, although significantly fewer people participated in the action nationwide.

The interior ministry put the number of demonstrators nationwide at 740,000, down from more than one million five days ago when protesters voiced their anger at Mr Macron’s order to push the Bill through parliament without a vote.

For unions, the fight against the law is far from over. An eleventh day of action is scheduled for April 6.

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