In Paris, garbage collectors between requisition and resistance – Pension reform
It is a little after 4 p.m. this Saturday, March 18, when Magali Charbonneau, prefect of Paris, arrives at the dump truck garage in Ivry-sur-Seine, in the south-east of the capital. Requisition file in hand and escorted by several police officers, she crosses the entrance courtyard and heads towards the building to meet the garage manager under the astonished gaze of the workers observing the scene from the floors of the building.
Ensure a minimum service
The objective is simple: to ensure a minimum service to the agents to stabilize the volume of garbage which today reaches 10,000 tonnes in the streets of Paris. The Paris prefecture has signed requests for requisitions of striking personnel in view of the unsustainable situation in terms of health and hygiene.
The director of cabinet explains her role: “We come to see if the site is blocked. If this is the case, it is released to allow the trucks to ensure the rounds. Then, if the number of employees necessary for operation is not reached, we proceed to the requisitions of the striking employees”.
“In good intelligence”
Notifications are made in the workplace “in dialogue, things are going well and on good terms”, specifies the prefect. It must be said that the refractory risk six months in prison and 10,000 euros fine in case of refusal. But Magali Charbonneau maintains: “It is not a breaking of the right to strike, it is to ensure a minimum service”.
And it must be ensured for each workstation. For the one in question here, about twenty vehicles must leave the garage. And so about twenty drivers. The chief of staff takes stock with the head of the garage. Today, the site is not blocked, and the staff is present. The document listing the twenty mobilized employees will remain in the file.
Hardship not recognized
In front of the gates of the garage, a dozen police officers monitor the turn of events. The device used is surprising and makes Régis Vieceli, CGT General Secretary of the Waste Treatment, Cleaning, Water, Sewer, Sanitation (FTDNEEA) react: “It hurts. Obviously the requisitions call into question our right to strike. And being escorted by the police to work is impressive, it’s not pleasant. Colleagues ask me to make them leave, I can’t do anything.
What drives the requisitions are the rats. But sewer workers and garbage collectors work all year round with rats
About thirty people gathered in front of the site, to support the garbage collectors. A man discreetly slips a 20 euro note to the trade unionist: “It’s for you guys, hold on,” he says. Régis Vieceli timidly accepts and continues: “What motivates the requisitions are the rats. But sewer workers and garbage collectors work all year round with rats. Children in parks are also in contact with their droppings. That’s no problem there.”
The 50-year-old deplores the lack of recognition of the arduous nature of the profession. The tons of accumulated waste is what they raise every day. “Our life expectancy is reduced, he continues, we want to retire at a decent age. We are not fighting just for ourselves, we are fighting for all the front lines.
“We resist in our own way”
And then around 5:30 p.m., a first truck leaves the garage, to the applause of the curious. Normally, the shift starts at 4 p.m. Régis Vieceli smiles. An hour and a half behind schedule, “it’s one of our little tricks”.
If they are forced to clock in, the employees use different techniques to make their dissatisfaction understood: going to fill up with gas at a station located several kilometers from the depot when there is one 500 meters away, driving at reduced speed on the roads, checking the vehicle several times before leaving, not finding your safety shoes to get into the truck. “We resist in our own way. But no comrade will break his working tool. We love our job”.
A meeting is scheduled for Monday to decide whether or not to renew the strike.
letelegramme Fr Trans