France Euro 2016: Hollande warns unions against disrupting tournament

French President Francois Hollande has warned against
attempts to disrupt Euro 2016 with strike action, on the
eve of the football tournament.
France has been in the grip of industrial action, mainly over
reforms to labour law, and a train strike could affect Friday’s
opening match.
Train drivers are threatening to strike on a line serving the
Stade de France in St Denis just outside Paris.
The stadium will host Friday evening’s match between
France and Romania.
Football fans arriving in Paris and several other cities this
week have been greeted by the sight and smell of
uncollected rubbish sacks as trade unionists blockade
The country is also on high alert since the jihadist attacks on
Paris in November, and is recovering from flood damage in
central and northern regions.
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‘Just not normal’
Mr Hollande said everyone had a duty to ensure that the
competition was allowed to proceed without incident.
“I appeal to everyone’s sense of responsibility because if the
state must do its duty – and it will, it will take all the
measures that are necessary,” he said on Thursday.
“At the same time, it is also necessary that those who are
taking part in actions, or who are organising them should
also shoulder their responsibility… so that this great event
can be a shared popular festival.”
Sports Minister Thierry Braillard appealed to the unions to
think about the football fans.
“While there are times when strikes can take place, we are
now on the eve of an event during which they are going to
prevent some fans from getting to the stadium,” he said.
“That’s just not normal.”
Strikers defiant
But train driver Berenger Cernon, secretary general of the
CGT union at the Gare de Lyon in Paris, was unapologetic.
“It’s not us who determine the calendar,” he said.
“We did not decide that the Euro will take place on this date.
There is a social movement going on now, the re-
organisation [of labour] continues, the labour law continues.
“We want the negotiations on the collective agreements be
open for everybody. So yes, clearly this will disturb the Euro
[tournament] and we will continue the strike.”
He added that efforts were under way to try to resolve the
situation although so far they only concerned the state rail
company (SNCF).
Nearly 3,000 tonnes of waste have gone uncollected in Paris,
according to the authorities.
Zahier, a waiter in a restaurant in the Latin Quarter where
rubbish spilled out of bins into the narrow, cobbled streets,
told AFP news agency: “Customers are looking out at the
dustbins, so obviously it’s making them lose their appetite.”
Mounds of waste have also been building up in the southern
city of Marseille, which will host four Euro 2016 matches,
including England’s clash with Russia on Saturday.