Garbage collectors’ strike: the prefect of police announces requisitions despite Hidalgo’s refusal

The government decided on Wednesday to go into force in the showdown which opposes it to the town hall of Paris on the 10th day of the strike of Parisian garbage collectors against the pension reform, by ordering requisitions to empty the garbage cans which are piled up in the capital.

Unsurprisingly, the Paris police chief, Laurent Nuñez, on the orders of the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin, informed Anne Hidalgo in the evening of his decision to requisition garbage collectors, which she had refused to do beforehand.

As of Tuesday evening, Gérald Darmanin had warned that if the PS mayor of Paris refused to carry out the requisitions herself, the State would do so for reasons of public health.

Wednesday afternoon, before the Senate, the Minister of the Interior repeated it.

While the pension reform project has passed the crucial stage of the joint joint commission (CMP), 7,600 tonnes of waste cluttered the sidewalks of the capital on Wednesday morning, according to the town hall.

The garbage collectors’ conflict gave Paris a bad image, especially abroad, which the government and the town hall quickly used in the political arena.

Through his spokesperson Olivier Véran, the executive accused Anne Hidalgo of “imposing” on Parisians “the consequences” of his support for the strike movement against pensions.

From the start of the review of the reform at the end of January, the former presidential candidate of 2022 had chosen to display the Town Hall as a “solidarity town hall” of the social movement.

– Skill –

The reaction of the Hôtel de Ville was immediate. “It is paradoxical that the State is asking local authorities to solve a problem that it has itself created when the requisition is, by right, a competence of the State”, replied Anne Hidalgo to Laurent Nuñez.

The PS mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo (d) speaks with the prefect of police of the capital Laurent Nunez (g) in the district of Les Halles, in Paris, on September 27, 2022 (AFP/Archives – Thomas SAMSON)

In a letter on Tuesday, the police headquarters had however stressed, based – like Ms. Dati – on the General Code of Local Authorities, that “the town hall holds the safety police on the public highway”.

It is therefore “within its competence to require a private company or to requisition the agents”, added the prefecture, considering that it could “in a second time” give notice to the City to do so.

If this procedure “remains unsuccessful, the prefect of police can replace” the town hall, “in the event of an emergency when the observed or foreseeable attack on good order, health and public safety requires it”, according to Prefecture.

– “Absolute emergencies” –

Wednesday on BFMTV, the secretary general of the CFDT Laurent Berger challenged Gérald Darmanin: “how do you requisition people? You go and get them one by one? It takes 3,000 to collect waste in Paris”.

In fact, it will be complicated for the prefect to carry out these requisitions on Thursday, when the Senate and then the National Assembly must decide on the adoption of the pension reform project, with or without recourse to article 49 -3 which allows adoption without a vote.

For Anne Hidalgo, “the claim of the garbage collectors of the City of Paris, who legitimately wish not to work two more years (…) is right” and “the only response likely to appease the current climate is to engage the social dialogue rather than delivering a showdown by making requisitions”.

Household waste is piled up in a street in Paris due to a garbage collectors' strike, March 12, 2023 (AFP/Archives - Zakaria ABDELKAFI)
Household waste is piled up in a street in Paris due to a garbage collectors’ strike, March 12, 2023 (AFP/Archives – Zakaria ABDELKAFI)

As for the use of private agents to act “on absolute emergencies”, which the town hall recognized on Tuesday, it does not constitute “at all substitution work”, assured his first deputy (PS) Emmanuel Grégoire.

“Never Anne Hidalgo and the elected representatives of this majority would commit to breaking a strike movement,” he assured.

The town hall also stressed that the outcome of the crisis was above all at the door of the three incinerators in the inner suburbs blocked for ten days, and which do not depend on it but on the metropolitan union, Syctom.

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