Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Competing narratives in Malaysia Airlines disaster coverage

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Kenya : Police arrest 8 over Mombasa rampage

Read more

FOCUS

Overfishing and the global appetite for bluefin tuna: can Tokyo turn the tide?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Too many graphic images from Gaza ?

Read more

FASHION

Who's next in Paris, an event with international ready-to-wear and fashion accessories collections

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Muslims and Christians clean up Bangui, and violence spirals out of control in Algeria's Gardaia

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Is there such thing as 'telegenic' victims of war?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

2014-07-22 07:21 IN THE FRENCH PRESS

Read more

  • Netherlands to honour MH17 victims in national day of mourning

    Read more

  • Defying UK, France to proceed with warships sale to Russia

    Read more

  • Israel hits Gaza targets despite diplomatic push for ceasefire

    Read more

  • US courts issue conflicting reports on Obamacare

    Read more

  • Video: Lebanon fears fallout from regional turmoil

    Read more

  • Widodo wins Indonesian presidential election

    Read more

  • Flight MH17 shot down ‘by mistake', US intelligence indicates

    Read more

  • US, European airlines suspend flights to Tel Aviv

    Read more

  • Australian veteran Rogers claims 16th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • France gives go-ahead to pro-Palestinian Paris rally

    Read more

  • French Jews mourn French-Israeli soldier killed in Gaza

    Read more

  • PSG punished by UEFA for abuse of disabled Chelsea fans

    Read more

  • Colombia's Rodriguez signs '€80m' contract with Real Madrid

    Read more

  • Children killed in minibus crash in eastern France

    Read more

  • A call for harmony in riot-hit ‘Little Jerusalem’ Paris suburb

    Read more

France

Marseille's rubbish piles to be cleared as workers end strike

Video by Gaëlle Faure

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-10-26

Rubbish collectors and workers from three oil refineries in Marseille were back at work on Tuesday after voting to end their walkout against France's pension reform. Although strikes continue nationwide, this is the first sign of dwindling support.

 

AP - France’s massive strikes opposing changes in the country’s pension system showed some signs of weakening when Marseille garbage collectors and workers at three oil refineries voted to end their walkouts.
 
But the French finance minister announced that the strikes are costing the national economy up to 400 million euros ($557 million) each day, as workers continued to block other oil refineries and some trash incinerators to protest the plan to raise the retirement age to 62.
 
Rotting piles of garbage - now at nearly 9,000 tons - are becoming a health hazard in Marseille, and trash collectors there explained their decision Monday to suspend their 2-week- long walkout as a response to the mounting hygiene problems in the Mediterranean city.
 
“There’s not a wide health risk on the city, but we have noticed a worsening of hygiene and security problems,” the head of the FO-Territoriaux union said at a news conference Monday. “We’re a responsible union.”
 
Twelve striking refineries had been shut down for nearly two weeks, but their protest movement appeared to weaken Monday after workers at three refineries voted to end their walkout. The French oil refineries’ body, UFIP, said all the country’s oil depots had also been unblocked.
 
The oil workers’ return to work is likely to ease the ongoing gasoline shortages, which on Monday still had about one in four gas stations in France shuttered.
 
President Nicolas Sarkozy has stood firm throughout the weeks long protest movement, insisting the reform is necessary to save the money-losing retirement system and ensure funds for future generations as life expectancy increases and the nation’s debt soars.
 
The bill to overhaul France’s pension plan is to be definitively voted on this week by the two houses of parliament, likely by Wednesday, officials said after a meeting of a committee that wrote a final version of the legislation to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62. It is all but certain to pass.
 
“We must be aware that in a world without borders we can’t have a French exception ... that exists nowhere else,” said lawmaker Pierre Mehaignerie, of Sarkozy’s UMP party.
 
Strikers were clearly counting on derailing the measure before it is signed into law after this week’s final voting.
 
Garbage and gas are critical weapons for the strikers, who decry the reform as unjust. Besides raising the minimum retirement age to 62, it increases the age to access full retirement benefits from 65 to 67. It was only in 1982 that French employees won the right to retire at 60, and since then it has been considered a well-earned right.
 
Workers at a large Paris waste incineration plant, in their fifth day of a strike, were catching up with colleagues who have been letting trash pile up in Marseille, the nation’s second-largest city.
 
“If we manage to get to a point where unfortunately Paris becomes like Marseille, covered in garbage, I think then the situation could change because Paris is France’s showcase,” said Olivier Nave, a 39-year-old garbage collector.
 
“No one wants Paris to look bad with tourists,” he told Associated Press Television News.
 
Currently, the French capital’s trash is being rerouted to several other waste treatment sites.
 
Final passage of the pension reform legislation through parliament this week has not deterred unions, which have already announced two new nationwide protests - for Thursday and Nov. 6.
 
The strikes have hit a wide swath of the economy and life in France, sporadically in some cases, like at schools and post offices. A national train strike that started Oct. 12 has been tapering off, but oil refinery workers, who had been striking steadily for about two weeks, are chipping away at the economy.
 
Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said on Europe-1 radio that it was difficult to put a daily price tag on the strikes, but she estimated it at between 200 million euros ($278 million) and 400 million euros ($557 million). Beyond that, the strikes are damaging France’s image, she said.
 
Lagarde said foreign news stations were constantly playing clips of the French protests.
 
“The territory’s attractiveness is put into question when you see images like that,” she said.
 
The gas-dependent trucking industry is among the sectors suffering. Nicolas Paulissen, deputy head of the French trucking industry body FNTR, said the industry was losing money due to lost business and an “explosion of costs.” He said it was too early to pin down a figure.
 
The demonstrations against the retirement reform have brought millions into the streets, and polls have shown that most French people support the strikers. Meanwhile, the conservative Sarkozy’s popularity is plummeting.
 
A poll published in Sunday’s Journal du Dimanche newspaper showed that only 29 percent of those surveyed were satisfied with Sarkozy’s performance. It was the French leader’s lowest rating since taking office in 2007.

 

Date created : 2010-10-26

  • FRANCE

    French pension reform bill moves closer to law

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    All fuel depots now cleared of blockades, oil industry says

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Rampant strikes threaten economic recovery, says govt

    Read more

COMMENT(S)