20 March 2012

Lyon Trash Collectors on Strike

Since my wife and I first went Gaga (ok, Gaga light — we still scan headlines and read the occasional news story), we are often among the last to know about current events, even in our own city.

Still, we knew something was up last week when the trash cans in our building courtyard and around the neighborhood began to overflow. A quick Google search revealed why: the sanitation collectors (ébouers) in the city of Lyon have been striking for more than one week now. And sources say they are not yet ready to call it quits.

The purpose of the strike is to protest a plan by city authorities to privatize the trash collection. The ébouers are also demanding to have Saturdays off.

When the public transportation workers strike, surface traffic backs up, annoying commuters for a few days. At least they have a good excuse to fall back on if they arrive late for work. Once the strike is over, however, congestion on streets and highways generally eases up immediately.

But a strike by the ébouers touches closer to home. Trash piles up along city streets and sidewalks. It smells and looks bad, not to mention the potential health risks involved.

Unless an agreement is reached soon, trash piles throughout the city (like the one pictured above) will continue to mushroom and invade larger portions of our public spaces.

This is nothing compared to what people in developing countries experience on a day-to-day basis. I know because I've lived there.

But it does get me to wondering: how long are we willing to let this go on before finding a solution that serves everyone?

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