- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 29, 2023

As pension protests continue across France, garbage collectors in Paris returned to work Wednesday, having been on strike since March 6 as mountains of trash piled up in the French capital.

Now back to work, the collectors will have to deal with the thousands of tons of trash left on the streets during the strike, along with fresh litter and detritus from protests of President Emmanuel Macron‘s pension reform law, passed without parliamentary vote.

The law raises the retirement age from 62 to 64. The sanitation workers of Paris also face a hike in the pension-eligible retirement age, from 57 to 59.

The amount of trash on Paris‘ streets peaked last week at over 10,000 tons, while on Tuesday evening it was already down to 6,600 tons, with some trash collection having already resumed as the strike was going on, according to French news channel CNews.

The city of Paris tweeted that, as of 2:46 p.m. local time Wednesday, another 800 tons of trash had been taken off the streets.

Some Parisians see the end of the strike, as well as a potential drop in protest attendance, as the beginning of the end of French resistance to the pension reform law.

“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, told the Associated Press.

While emphasizing that the fight was not over, the union representing Paris‘ trash collectors admitted that they had run out of manpower on the picket line.

“We need to discuss again with the agents of the waste and sanitation sector of the city of Paris in order to go back to the strike stronger … because we have almost no more strikers,” the CGT-FTDNEEA union said in a statement, as translated by a computer.

This sentiment was echoed by garbage collector Jérôme Gaschard, speaking to French TV news channel BFM TV.

“I think there are no more strikers simply because financially speaking, a strike is very very expensive. Purchasing power is in free fall. There, we are going to [suspend the strike] so that people go back to work and recover financially,” Mr. Gaschard told BFM TV, as translated by a computer.

French unions have set April 6 as the 11th “day of action,” hoping once again to raise protests nationwide against Mr. Macron‘s law.

“We lost a battle but we have not yet lost the war,” Mr. Gaschard said.

• Brad Matthews can be reached at bmatthews@washingtontimes.com.

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