Paris 2024: Why rubbish collectors might turn the Olympics into a garbage fiasco

A wild dump near Villepinte Exhibition Center. For several months, 450 tonnes of garbage have been piling up in an unauthorized dump on a slip road of the A104 freeway in Villepinte, close to an Olympic site.

Paris 2024: Why rubbish collectors might turn the Olympics into a garbage fiasco

Festus Chuma 10:16 - 05.05.2024

Paris refuse collectors have threatened Olympic-period strikes, demanding better compensation amidst expected high tourist influx and increased workload

As the 2024 Paris Olympics approach a different kind of competition is heating up in the streets of Paris—between the city's refuse collectors and the local government. 

The CGT union branch, representing the binmen, is threatening strikes that could start in May and stretch from July 1 to September 8, enveloping the Olympic Games scheduled from July 26 to August 11.

The refuse workers in the Paris region are pushing for an increase of 400 euros (Ksh 56,900) per month and a one-off bonus of 1,900 euros (Ksh 270,439) for those who will be working during the Olympics. 

Their demands come amid what they describe as an "excessive workload" expected due to the influx of approximately 15 million tourists.

Nabil Latreche, a prominent member of the CGT-FTDNEEA union, articulated the workers' sentiments.

 "We're going to be giving it our all and we want that taken into consideration. The municipal police are getting a bonus, and we have the same employer. We're going to have an excessive workload too," she told AFP.

Paris City Hall had earlier floated the idea of graduated bonuses for rubbish collectors, ranging from 600 to 1,200 euros (Ksh 85,402 to Ksh 170,804).

However, this proposal was met with frustration from the union after learning the payouts would depend on the amount of extra work taken on. This led to the CGT walking out of negotiations.

A meeting between Paris deputy mayors and the CGT is slated for the following week, with hopes to resolve the standoff. However, some refuse collectors have already had to cancel holidays due to the lack of additional staff recruitment, as highlighted by Latreche.

This is not the first time Paris binmen have made headlines as in March of last year, a three-week strike over President Emmanuel Macron's unpopular pension reforms resulted in over 10,000 tonnes of waste accumulating on Paris streets, some piles growing several meters high. 

If the strikes go ahead as planned, the Olympic Games could face significant disruptions. 

The refuse collectors' actions are set to signal their discontent and the critical role they play in maintaining the city's cleanliness especially during such a globally significant event.

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