Even in France! Smelly Bins, Pickets Plague Euro 2016 Venues

As teams prepare for the big game in Paris, some streets in parts of Paris are filling up with garbage.

3 min read
A man on a bicycle passes in front of a banner of the Euro 2016 soccer fans zone, in Bordeaux, France. ( Photo: AP)

As the stench of rotten, uncleared garbage wafts through parts of Paris and pilots prepare to strike, French President Francois Hollande said he would do what was needed to ensure protests do not spoil the Euro 2016 soccer tournament starting on Friday.

France was chosen to host this big event and will live up to the scale of the task.
Francois Hollande

His government chimed in 24 hours ahead of the first match of a month-long football fiesta, that millions of fans and foreign visitors hope to follow despite an industrial dispute and pickets that have hit public transport and rubbish collection and snarled up strategic roads.

Some people just don’t give a damn that their country is about to host a big event which creates jobs and huge economic benefits.
Thierry Braillard, Sports Minister

The country has been plagued for weeks by protests over a labour reform bill, compounded by sectoral disputes over issues such as reorganisation of work and rest time at the state-owned SNCF railways.

The government’s message appeared to fall on deaf ears. The hardline CGT (Capital Gains Tax) union said it would extend a rubbish collection strike in the capital until June 14, and Air France pilots confirmed a four-day walkout over pay.

CGT leader Philippe Martinez confirmed he had been invited for talks with Labour Minister Myriam El Khomri – but not for another week.

It’s what we’ve been demanding for months. It’s far better to talk than to ignore France’s main trade union.
Philippe Martinez, CGT Leader

While rail services improved as a nine-day strike over work and rest time ran out of steam, activists for the far-left SUD union threatened to disrupt trains carrying fans to France’s opening match against Romania on Friday.

Team captain Cristiano Ronaldo, (right), looks at his teammates while listening to Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa at the Belem presidential palace in Lisbon. (Photo: AP)
Team captain Cristiano Ronaldo, (right), looks at his teammates while listening to Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa at the Belem presidential palace in Lisbon. (Photo: AP)

Air France said it would be have to cancel up to 30 percent of flights during the four-day walkout by pilots but said it hoped to minimise disruption to travel to cities hosting the Euro championship.

“Of course, we’ll look after the Euro tournament,” airline chief Frederic Gagey told a news conference, adding the dispute would cost the airline 5 million euros ($5.66 million) a day.

Finance Minister Michel Sapin said the confrontation risked undermining a nascent pickup in economic growth after official data suggested job creation was rising and an unemployment rate of 10 percent was starting to drop, a year from elections.

France’s players participate in a training session. (Photo: AP)
France’s players participate in a training session. (Photo: AP)

Spanner in the Works

President Hollande says reform is key to tackling unemployment, which he promised to bring down when elected in 2012. Sapin said job creation in the first three months of the year was better than in any quarter since early 2008.

This is not the moment to throw a spanner into the works, with growth picking up.
Michel Sapin, Finance Minister

As millions of foreign visitors and soccer fans prepared for the tournament, garbage piled up on the streets in parts of Paris, and Marseilles garbage workers started similar action, bringing waste plants to a standstill.

Hours from an opening soccer match that pits France against Romania, a train driver representative of the SUD union warned that travel to the 80,000-capacity stadium could be disrupted on a commuter line known as the RER D.

It was not clear that his union had enough power to cause a major disruption through a strike, or whether it planned to set up pickets or even occupy the rail tracks. A representative of the RATP urban transport network said plans were being made to ensure enough trains to get tens of thousands of football fans to their destination.

(This article has been edited for length.)

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