Sanitation workers in Paris are set to return to work Wednesday amid heaps of trash that piled up over their weekslong strike as protests against French President Emmanuel Marcon's controversial pension bill appeared to be winding down.
Trash mounds of up to 10,000 tons along the French capital's streets — reportedly equal to the weight of the Eiffel Tower — have become a striking visual symbol of opposition to Marcon's bill raising the retirement age from 62 to 64.
Clean-up crews were set Wednesday to start picking up debris from streets following fresh anti-pension reform protests a day earlier. CGT, the union representing sanitation workers, said it's three-week-long strike was over Wednesday. They will join others who were legally requisitioned to earlier to help with the clean-up.
"It's good that the trash is collected. It's very unsanitary, and some residents already have trouble with rats and mice. It can be dangerous if it's left too long," said artist Gil Franco, 73.
The dwindling number of protesters is seen by some as the beginning of the end of demonstrations against the pension bill.
"People are getting tired of it. There has been too much violence. Paris is a mess, and I want to get on with normal life," said Paris resident Amandine Betout, 32, getting her morning croissant in Le Marais district. She said it was a "good thing" that the trash is cleaned from the streets.
Tuesday's protests in Paris saw dozens of arrests and flare ups of violence, though significantly fewer people participated in the action nationwide.
The Interior Ministry put the number of demonstrators nationwide at 740,000, down from more than 1 million five days ago when protesters voiced their rage at Macron's order to ram the bill through parliament without a vote.
For unions, the fight against the law is far from over. An eleventh day of action is scheduled for April 6.