Paris Trash Piles Up Amid Strike Disruption Ahead of Euro 2016

  • Strikes, blockades hit daily collection of 3,000 tons of trash
  • French workers protesting planned labor law since last month

Trash is piling up in the streets of Paris two days before the Euro 2016 soccer tournament starts, with strikes by garbage collectors and blocked waste-management centers adding to labor-law protests disrupting French daily life.

Workers have blocked access to a waste incinerator on the edge of Paris operated by Suez Environnement SA, France’s largest, while the city said strikes are affecting garbage collection from tourist areas including the Latin Quarter to residential neighborhoods including the upscale 16th arrondissement.

Garbage collection has experienced major disruption since Monday in one out of two arrondissements, according to a statement from Paris city authorities. In addition to blocking as many as three out of four Syctom waste-management sites, protesters have blocked garbage-truck garages, it said. Police intervened Wednesday to free access to two garages, according to he city.

“These blocking actions are not acceptable,” the city authorities said. They have a purely local impact, which affects the daily lives of Parisians, while the demands are purely of a national order.” The city called for talks to resume between the government and unions.

The Euro 2016 tournament kicks off on Friday at the Stade de France with the host country team facing Romania, and the month-long event is expected to draw 2.5 million fans. Though abating, strikes at oil refineries, power supplier Electricite de France SA and railway operator SNCF have dragged on even as the government has called on protesting workers to spare the competition, Europe’s biggest sporting event.

“We all love football at CGT Services Publics and we’d prefer to quietly watch the matches, but for us it’s more important to protect our labor rights,” Damien Martinez, a spokesman for the CGT union representing garbage collectors, said in a phone interview.

At the Suez waste treatment center in Ivry, just east of the ring road circling Paris, operations have been blocked since May 30, said Patrice Fure, a spokesman for the site’s operator Syctom. Strikes are expected to shut down the waste incinerator in the Paris suburb of Saint-Ouen operated by EDF unit Tiru on Thursday, site manager Carole Bedenchini said by phone. The center can process 630,000 tons of waste a year.

The city of Paris says it normally collects 3,000 tons of garbage a day.

Outside of the Paris region, garbage collection has been halted in Saint-Etienne. The city, which hosts the Portugal-Iceland match on Tuesday, said it may not be able to open a fan zone for the Euro 2016 tournament planned for Friday.

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