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Paris streets overwhelmed by stench of rubbish after refuse workers join pension protest strike


he streets of Paris have been littered with uncollected rubbish because refuse workers are on strike in opposition to plans to raise the pension age to 64.

A bill to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 moved forward after being adopted by the senate despite strikes, protests and uncollected rubbish piling high in the capital.

Three incineration plants outside the capital have been hit by walkouts, with entire pavements covered in black bags and overflowing bins.

Syctom, Paris’s household waste agency, said it had been rerouting refuse collections to other regional facilities and has not yet resorted to calling in police.

The strike has hit some of Paris’s most exclusive areas, including the 5th, 6th, and 16th arrondissements.

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City hall employees have for the last week been picking up rubbish in just half of Paris’s districts, while other districts are served by private firms which have not gone on strike.

AFP via Getty Images

Pastry chef Romain Gaia, who works in the 2nd district where bins are not being collected, told the AFP news agency: “It’s terrible, there’s rats and mice.”

However, he still backed the strikes despite the smell of mounting rubbish.

“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).”

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said late on Saturday that she looks forward to the bill’s definitive passage, hailing it as a “decisive step toward a reform that will assure the future of our retirement” system.

However, the legislation must now head to a committee of seven senators and seven lower-house politicians to find a compromise between the two houses’ versions of the text on Wednesday.

Unions have planned an eighth round of nationwide protest marches to mark it.

President Emmanuel Macron has refused a request by unions to meet with him, which leftist CGT union leader Philippe Martinez said amounted to “giving the finger”.

Unions maintain that French people are voicing their opposition to the reform in the streets and through strikes, continuing though reduced in some sectors.

The government hopes to avoid using a special constitutional power to force the bill through parliament without a vote, hoping that passing the measure through parliament would give additional legitimacy to the controversial bill.

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