The City of Lights has a garbage problem.
Massive strikes in Paris against pension reform this week are affecting trash pickup services in the French capital, with piles of waste sitting on many of the city’s normally picturesque streets, including those just steps from monuments like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.
As of Saturday, about 4,400 tonnes of trash were awaiting collection, a spokeswoman for the Paris mayor’s office said. The spokeswoman said that the problem is a blockage at trash incinerators caused by the strikes. Garbage trucks have thus been unable to pick up waste in much of the city because they have nowhere to put it.
Not all neighborhoods have been equally affected. The municipal government is in charge of garbage collection in half of Paris’ 20 arrondissements. Private contractors are responsible for the other 10.
Municipal services like trash collection in Paris have been affected since Tuesday, when strikes saw flights and trains canceled and delayed; oil refiners blockaded; schools shuttered; and left thousands without electricity. The French capital was the most affected, with nearly 60% of its primary school teachers walking out and the local metro forced to cut service to all but the busiest times.
Massive protests have been staged regularly throughout France since January 19, with more than a million people coming out multiple to voice their opposition to the government’s plan to raise the official retirement age for most workers as part of reforms to the government’s pension system, one of Europe’s most generous.
President Emmanuel Macron’s government says the changes are necessary to make the system financially stable.
The trash buildup in Paris has been sparked health concerns among Parisians and local politicians. The mayor of the 17th arrondissement, Geoffroy Boulard, said in an interview with CNN affiliate BFMTV that he has asked Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo to hire a private service provider to intervene.
“We can’t wait,” he said. “This is a matter of public health.”
Boulard said he’s also worried about the proliferation of rats and rodents as well as Paris’ image.
Another local mayor, Jean-Pierre Lecoq of the 6th arrondissement, asked Hidalgo to intervene in an open letter he published on Twitter.