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Paris Suffers From Major Garbage Problem Amid Workers' Strike

March 18, 2023
2023-03-18
If you thought Paris will smell its sweetest in spring, this year is a little different. Piles and piles of garbage are currently rotting right on the streets of the French capital, a result of the workers' strike that started in early March of 2023. The protest is a response to the recently passed retirement bill that President Emmanuel Macron pushed despite its extreme unpopularity. As expected, this highly controversial move led to social unrest, with Paris being the most affected by such demonstrations.

Paris Suffers From Major Garbage Problem Amid Workers' Strike


What is The Strike All About?

Bloomberg reports that President Emmanual Macron pushed to pass a pension reform last March 17, 2023. The bill, which raised the retirement age from 62 to 64, was met with massive criticism and public disdain. Even two of Macron's political rivals, leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon and far-right conservative Marine Le Pen, have both gone against the French president's decision, even going so far as to call for his resignation. Though the bill had a few supporters, what turned most people off was how Macron bypassed a final parliament vote to get it passed. Thus, Paris is seeing a huge pushback, specifically from blue-collar workers.


How is Paris Now?

As of this writing, the French capital is overflowing with trash. Throughout the different neighborhoods in Paris, dumpsters and bins are filled to the brim with uncollected piles of garbage. It has amounted to a whopping 10,000 tonnes according to France 24. There are even some areas in this normally picturesque city with trash bags and litter lying right on the street. And of course, their putrid smells linger in the air, overtaking the usual sweet scents of the recently blossomed flowers in spring. Be it in affluent avenues or more residential districts, all of Paris is affected by the workers' strike and its unmaintained garbage problem.

Paris Suffers From Major Garbage Problem Amid Workers' Strike



How The Strike May Evolve Moving Forward

The silver lining of this whole thing is that the protests haven't turned violent. At least, not yet. The French, particularly those in Paris, do have a history of turbulent political demonstrations over the years. Just last 2018, there was the notorious clash between the Yellow Vests and the government, which turned rather violent and destructive as it continued on to 2019. It even led to various monuments and museums in Paris closing down, as well as airlines canceling their flights to the city. For now, the current strike hasn't led to that, but there's still a big chance the same thing might happen again.


How Will This Affect Tourism?

As stated previously, the workers' strike hasn't become a major problem yet. At least, when it comes to tourism. The city remains largely safe and airlines have not canceled flights to the French capital. Even travel agencies haven't advised travelers from going to Paris. What is a big problem, however, is the sanitary conditions of the city. Beyond its bad smells, the garbage left on the streets will prove to be harmful to people's health if left unattended and unmaintained. This might even lead to new diseases spreading throughout the capital, possibly becoming the biggest health problem after Covid-19.

Paris Suffers From Major Garbage Problem Amid Workers' Strike



What is The Government's Response?

The government has yet to respond to the workers' strike and the current garbage problem in Paris. But Politico reports that Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin plans to force garbage collectors back to work to clean the city up. He warned Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo that if Paris's sanitary conditions continue to worsen, he'll have no choice but to push through with this harsh move. In response, Paris Deputy Mayor Colombe Brossel further proves that the national government is still unable to communicate effectively with the working public. “This once again demonstrates that this government is incapable of dialogue and of assuming its responsibilities in the face of an unfair reform,” said Brossel.


What To Do in Paris Now?

For now, it's important to remain vigilant if you're in the French capital. If you're currently visiting or have relocated to Paris, just try your best to withstand the smells and avoid the garbage piles on the street. It's also best not to add to the problem by littering. Do your part in keeping the city clean despite its current condition. Moreover, keep in mind that the protest might escalate if the government still doesn't respond to the workers' pleas. You'd do well to avoid public squares like Place de la Concorde and Place de la République, the usual spots where political demonstrations take place.

Paris Suffers From Major Garbage Problem Amid Workers' Strike


As workers go on strike in retaliation for the newly passed retirement bill, garbage keeps on piling up in the city of Paris. It has led to an impasse that both the French government and the capital have to fix to improve tourism and living conditions in the city.






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