Wednesday marked the beginning of the end for one of the most enduring manifestations of opposition to the unpopular pension bill proposed by French President Emmanuel Marcon: the return to work of striking sanitation workers in Paris.
Waste from the streets following the tenth nationwide anti-pension reform protest a day earlier and piles of trash from their weeklong strike that began on March 6 were waiting for clean-up crews.
Contrary to Marcon’s plan to raise the retirement age by two years, trash mounds that reached up to 10,000 tons from streets of the French capital equivalent to weight of Eiffel Tower have striking visual and olfactory symbol. Most people will have to work until they are 64 when the measure, which is currently being examined by the Constitutional Council, becomes law.
Due to their laborious jobs, sanitation workers, who had blocked three incinerator plants and garbage truck depots, retire at age 57 earlier than most people, though many work longer to increase their pensions. Their retirement age would be raised to 59 under the new plan.
Although significantly fewer people participated in the nationwide protests on Tuesday, there were dozens of arrests and outbreaks of violence during the demonstrations in Paris.
The number of protesters across the country, according to the Interior Ministry. Now 740,000, down from more than 1 million five days ago, when protesters expressed their rage at Macron’s directive to ram the bill through parliament without a vote.
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