French strikes spread to bin collections ahead of Euro 2016

A woman walks past rubbish bins on June 8, 2016 in a street in Paris Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rubbish is piling up on the streets of Paris

First came the petrol shortages, then the rail strikes and the devastating floods. Now, with Euro 2016 starting on Friday, Paris and other French cities have been hit by a bin strike.

The capital's three main waste treatment facilities were picketed on Wednesday in a continuing dispute over labour reforms.

Bin collections have stopped in several areas and rubbish has begun piling up.

The first Euro 2016 tie will be held in Paris at the Stade de France.

Most of the Paris bin lorry depots have not been active for more than a week and the main waste treatment and incineration site for the capital has been blockaded for 10 days.

The bin strike also affects Marseille in the south and the central city of Saint-Etienne, both key venues in the football tournament.

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Image copyright AP
Image caption Protesters mobbed the Gare du Nord on Wednesday where the Euro 2016 trophy was due to arrive

The government has struggled to bring an end to industrial action over its decision to force through watered down reforms to France's labour laws without a vote in parliament.

Several sectors of the French economy are still affected by industrial action:

  • Petrol shortages are over but some oil refineries are still shut
  • Trains have been hit by cancellations for eight days, although few services are now affected
  • Workers at three liquefied natural gas terminals have voted to stage two strikes
  • Air France pilots plan to strike from 11 to 14 June in a separate dispute over pay

Some 200 protesters disrupted the arrival of the Euro 2016 trophy at Paris Gare du Nord on Wednesday, hours after a smaller demonstration outside the home of Myriam El Khomri, the architect of the controversial labour law.

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Media captionDrills have been held by security forces in preparation for Euro 2016

Beyond the anger over the labour reforms, the government of Prime Minister Manuel Valls faces two other major challenges: the security threat months after jihadist attacks in Paris left 130 people dead; and flooding that affected several areas of France.

A mobile phone app was launched on Wednesday to alert the public "in case of a suspected attack".

Image copyright @Place_Beauvau
Image caption The interior ministry has been promoting the app on Twitter

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that a "natural disaster" had been formally declared in 782 towns and villages in 17 separate departments of France after flooding at the weekend.

Those areas worst hit were along the Loire and Seine rivers as well as in the north-east of the country. Meteo France said areas of the east and north-east were still at risk of storms on Wednesday evening.

There was some good news, however, when visitors were allowed to return to the Louvre and Musee d'Orsay, days after they were shut because of the floods.

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