Rubbish bags pile up on French streets as binmen demand 21-HOUR week

Sackre bleurgh! Rubbish bags pile up on French streets as binmen demand 21-HOUR working week

  • Bin men in Marseilles are a month into a strike over length of their working week 
  • The council attempted to increase their weekly work from 21-hours to 35-hours
  • Due to the strike, the council say more than 3,000 tonnes of trash has piled up 
  • Last week, an agreement was reached by later rejected by left-wing union 
  • Police have now ordered some of the striking bin men back to work to clear it 

Rubbish bags are piling up on French streets as binmen demand a 21-hour working week, with at least 3,000 tonnes of rubbish at risk of being blown into the sea.

Industrial action by refuse workers in Marseilles began last month in protest at being told to work more than their usual 21-hour week. 

French police on Thursday ordered the bin men to clear the rubbish from the beaches in a bid to avoid an ecological disaster in the Mediterranean. 

A picture taken on September 30, 2021 shows accumulated garbage in a street of Marseille, southern France, during a strike of bin men in the city over the working week length

Greater Marseilles council was looking to introduce national legislation that would require public sector employees to work the national 35-hour week from January 1.

Despite this being one of the shortest working weeks in the world, many council employees – particularly in cities such as Paris and Marseilles – work less than that.

Marseilles’ binmen also receive nine weeks of holiday each year. This is made up of give weeks of annual leave and four weeks of ‘compensatory rest’ to prevent the city’s 3,658 binmen from becoming exhausted.

Since the strike, Marseilles’ streets have quickly become full of thousands of tonnes of stinking refuse, much of which has been swept onto beaches by wind and rain.

In response, the police have said they will force around 60 of the striking binmen back to work to help clear up the growing mess.

Should they refuse, the workers face a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a fine of £10,000. 

French police on Thursday ordered the bin men to clear the rubbish from the beaches in a bid to avoid an ecological disaster in the Mediterranean. Pictured: A man walks past a pile of trash

A week ago, an agreement was signed by Force Ouvrière (Worker’s Force) – one of the two major public sector unions in France – to end the strike.

The binmen will get a pay increase of €80 a month, no cut to holidays and will work 31-hour weeks, with council officials conceding that bin men should work less due to the tough nature of the job.

However, the hard-left Confédération Générale du Travail (General Confederation of Labour) trade union rejected the deal, keeping many of the bin men on strike.

The council has said that there are now 3,000 tonnes of uncollected rubbish in Marseilles, with more than 500 residents responding to a call to help clean the beaches themselves.  

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