• On Thursday, the government used article 49.3 of the Constitution to impose its pension reform, which has been at the origin of many social movements for weeks in France.
  • In Paris, while the city is drowning in rubbish that piles up everywhere in the street, garbage collectors maintain their strike despite requisition orders announced by the Paris Police Prefecture.
  • If they will not go against the law, the agents are already preparing the counter-offensive based on slowing down the service and are already casting a shadow over the 2024 Olympics.

"49.3 or not, we won't move." A few hours before Élisabeth Borne, Prime Minister, draws once again the article symbol of the mandate, the garbage collectors of the garage of the Directorate of cleanliness and water Mairie de Paris of Ivry-sur-Seine do not bite.

"It's no surprise to see the government pull out its favourite weapon," said Didier Labruyère, Force Ouvrière union delegate. A few hours earlier, rumors of the requisition of striking garbage collectors by the Paris Police Prefecture to respond to the pile of garbage in the capital were swelling.

The shadow of requisitions

"We know that the CRS are already in Pizzorno," comments a striker about the intervention of the police at the warehouse of the private company, responsible for collecting waste in the southwestern part of Paris.

However, all the people present on the picket line this Thursday morning seem rather serene. "We will not give up, whatever happens," adds Farid, also a Force Ouvrière delegate on this site, which records 98% of strikers. At a standstill since March 6, the agents of the site that houses 80 garbage collection trucks of the City of Paris remain determined.

Regardless of the way, these employees do not want the pension reform, and hate the way this new law is brought: "We were applauded during the confinement. It was proof of the usefulness of our work. Now we are being crushed. We are treated with contempt by people who do not know what work is," says Christian*.

Already difficult working conditions

To justify their movement, there is no shortage of arguments: "Most of the officers here get up at 3:30 a.m. every day, to be at 5:30 a.m. on the bridge. Rain, snow, wind, we're there every day," Farid adds. All of them note the arduousness of their profession. A "killer-man" as Yasmine, also a striker, describes him: "They tell us that life expectancy is increasing. For them, elected officials in suits yes. But we still had seven deaths in two years. »

Heart attacks, cancers of the digestive tract, these colleagues have not exceeded 61 years, as Christian laments: "Can you imagine what it is like to lift garbage cans at 60? And they want to add two more. Because if these agents can indeed retire at 57 because of their status (59 years with the reform), the vast majority pushes up to 62 years as Didier Labruyère specifies: "We can leave earlier, but with a discount of about 5% per year. With salaries that are around 1,300 euros per month on average, after 40 years of career, they are not many to leave early. »

Especially since with such salaries, most cannot find accommodation near Paris, a city whose inhabitants they rid of their garbage. It is not uncommon for them to drive more than 60 kilometers a day to come to work. For Didier, it's 180 kilometres round trip every day. So they are determined.

Idling tours to circumvent the law

"We won't give up!" 49.3 or not, requisition or not, they assure that they will hold the movement. "We are not delinquents," says Christian, "if we are requisitioned, we will not smash people. But the employees are exhausted, and we will not be able to hold everyone. »

Because the movement of requisitions has already begun. Foreseen in the General Code of Local Authorities which allows to "request any person necessary for the operation of this service", the Prefecture of Police of Paris has obliged the City of Paris, opposed to the principle, to transmit this Thursday the list of 4,000 names and addresses of garbage collectors who work for it.

But the employees have already planned the response. In case of requisition, they will respect the law: "But if it takes four hours to start my dumpster in the morning, and to heat the cabin, an essential condition for good working conditions, well it will be like that," says Didier Labruyère. In the same way, nothing will force him to hurry during pickup rounds: "If I want to do it in slow motion, no one will force me to go faster."

Ditto for exceptional technical problems that could occur during tours: "Only we are able to know how to operate. So if it takes the day to solve a problem, we will take the day. The union official does not hide the techniques envisaged to continue the movement. Hinder the smooth running of the work without blocking it, a way to circumvent the requisition without risking penalties.

The 2024 Olympics in sight?

"It's the same for the incinerator. If they want to force it off again, the guys will take 96 hours or more to get it started, instead of the normal 24 to 48 hours. A technique that Farid sums up with: "If they want to play, we also know how to do it. »

And the employees insist on this point: "This is only the beginning. And the hardest part is latent. "Macron is boasting with his Olympics in 2024. But it can very well turn into a disaster if we decide to do so. The Government would be wrong to sit on this. »

  • Paris
  • Ile
  • Strike
  • Pension reform 2023
  • Government
  • Elisabeth Borne