Paris deploys private trash trucks to
beat strike as Euro soccer starts
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[June 10, 2016]
By Brian Love
PARIS (Reuters) - The French authorities
sent in private rubbish collection trucks to clear piles of rotting
garbage from Paris streets on Friday and told striking public sector
workers they would not be allowed to disrupt Europe's soccer
The eyes of the continent are on France as the Euro 2016
tournament kicks off later in the day, with 1.5 million foreign fans
expected to join millions of French supporters for the month-long
"All the rubbish will be cleared up, starting now, today," said
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, adding that about 50 trucks had been
dispatched overnight and 30 more on Friday morning to rid the city
of waste left piled up by striking workers.
"It will take a few days obviously."
The waste treatment workers' strike is one of several by public
sector employees angry at government plans to make hiring and firing
easier with a revamp of labor law, which President Francois Hollande
has repeatedly said he will not withdraw.
Wary of damage to France's international image, Transport Minister
Alain Vidalies condemned plans by Air France pilots to strike for
four days from Saturday and said train drivers would be forced to
ensure public transport for fans if needed.
The soccer tournament is supposed to showcase the ability of a
country still smarting from deadly militant attacks last November to
handle a major international event smoothly.
"If requisitioning is required ... we'll do it," Vidalies said.
"There will be no more negotiating. There's no longer any reason to
continue the strike if it's not for political reasons."
Public-sector waste treatment staff who have been on strike for days
have vowed to continue the protest into next week. Workers at the
state-owned SNCF railways were on strike for a tenth day on Friday.
Air France said it hoped to guarantee about 80 percent of flights on
Saturday when pilots start a four-day stoppage over pay cuts. One in
four medium-haul flights would be scrapped and about one in 10
scrapped on long-haul and domestic routes.
Vidalies said the government would not tolerate any form of illicit
protest such as occupation of railway tracks, a ploy used
occasionally in recent days to bring transport to a halt.
One big concern was threats by some unions to disrupt train links
between Paris and the suburban 80,000-capacity Stade de France
stadium where France plays Romania in the tournament opener on
[to top of second column]
Soldiers pass by a pile of rubbish bags on the Grands boulevards in
Paris, France, during a strike by garbage collectors and sewer
workers of the city of Paris to protest the labour reforms law
proposal, June 9, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
"This is an action against France and the French people," the
minister told Europe 1 radio.
Fans were urged to turn up early at Stade de France, where gates
would open three hours before a 1900 GMT kickoff, with the SNCF
promising to ensure high-frequency rail connections at crunch
moments. Local media said SNCF executives were being drafted in to
replace striking train drivers.
Asked if images broadcast worldwide of rotting rubbish would also
compromise Paris's bid to host the 2024 Olympics, Vidalies quipped:
"I didn't see any hordes of rats on my way here."
France is deploying nearly 90,000 police and security staff to head
off any risk of violence or repeat of attacks in which Islamist
militants killed 130 people and injured hundreds last November in
Paris and outside the Stade de France.
Police in the southern port city of Marseille stepped in to halt
skirmishes in the early hours of Friday between locals and England
supporters who spent the night drinking alcohol outside pubs in the
lively Vieux Port area of the city.
Almost 90,000 people danced overnight at an incident-free music
concert to celebrate the start of the Euro tournament at the foot of
an Eiffel Tower, lit up in the French colors of blue, white and red
for the occasion.
(Additional reporting by Dominique Vidalon, Emmanuel Jarry and
Myriam Rivet; Editing by Paul Taylor, Susan Thomas and Peter Graff)
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