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‘Disgusting and unhealthy’: Rubbish piles up in strike-hit Paris

Rubbish on a street corner in Paris amid a strike by waste collectors on February 3, 2020.
Rubbish on a street corner in Paris amid a strike by waste collectors on February 3, 2020. © AFP / FRANCE 24

A strike by waste collectors in France has led to rubbish piling up in the streets of Paris, leaving locals and tourists to the French capital dealing with eyesores, bad smells and rodent pests.

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For the past 10 days, waste collectors striking over government reforms to the pension system have been blockading six of the Paris region’s seven incinerators.

With nowhere to dispose of rubbish, bins in several parts of the city are going uncollected and waste left to fester on pavements and street corners.

“It's frankly disgusting, it's ugly!” Paris resident Joël Bonnet told AFP. “It's ugly, it's unhealthy, and when compared to other capitals, it's rare to see nightmare situations like this.”

For visitors to the city, like Anglo-American couple April and Andie Wood, it is an image of the French capital they had not been expecting.

“I think it is a deterrent as a tourist to have to witness it,” said April.

“The problem you’ve got is safety to pedestrians and the vermin, and the smell!” added Andie.

The strikes have been triggered by government plans to create a single pension system for all workers. But rubbish collectors says that they should continue to be allowed to retire early because their life expectancy is seven years less than the national average.

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