Rather quiet in the streets of Paris, the garbage is still piling up

PARIS — A wave of protests were expected in France this weekend against President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial pension reform, as rubbish continued to stink on the streets of Paris and beyond amid a garbage collectors’ strike.

An eerie calm returned to Paris on Saturday after two nights of protests by several thousand people in the French capital, with a flashpoint in the elegant Place de la Concorde where angry protesters threw an effigy of Macron into a bonfire to the cheers of the crowd. Police dispersed people with tear gas and water cannons and there were hundreds of arrests.

Protesters are trying to pressure lawmakers to overthrow the Macron government and condemn an ​​unpopular increase in the retirement age he is trying to impose without a vote in the National Assembly.

New demonstrations were planned for Saturday in Paris as well as in the cities of Marseille and Nantes, but they were to be smaller than the previous days.

In the 12th arrondissement of Paris on Saturday, rubbish accumulated a few meters from a bakery, giving off smoke encouraged by the mild weather and the sun. Some Parisians buying their weekend baguette blamed the Macron administration.

“The government should change its position and listen to the people because what is happening is extremely serious. And we are witnessing a radicalization,” said Isabelle Vergriette, 64, a psychologist. “The government is largely responsible for this.”

The mayor of the borough, Emmanuelle Pierre-Marie, moved at dawn to worry in her neighborhood about the consequences of the pileup, which has become a visual and olfactory symbol of anti-retirement action.

“Food waste is our priority because it’s what brings pests to the surface,” said Pierre-Marie. “We are extremely sensitive to the situation. As soon as we have a dump truck available, we give priority to the most affected places, such as food markets.

Strikes in many sectors, from transport to energy, are scheduled for Monday. Civil Aviation has requested that 30% of flights be canceled at Orly, Paris’ second airport, and 20% at Marseille.

Laurent Berger, leader of the moderate CFDT union, said the pension reform “must be withdrawn”.

“We condemn the violence. … But look at the anger. It’s very strong, even in our ranks, ”he said on RMC radio.

On Friday, a day after Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne invoked a special constitutional power to circumvent a vote in the chaotic lower house, lawmakers on the right and left filed no-confidence motions to vote on Monday.


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