Marseille garbage collectors strike ahead of Olympic torch arrival

PARIS (Reuters) - Marseille's public administration asked the local state authority on Sunday to requisition striking garbage collection workers, compelling enough of them back to work to maintain a service, two days before the Olympic torch is expected to reach the port city.


The strike, which has been going on since April 30, could tarnish the city's image just when it's in the global spotlight as the Olympic torch reaches mainland France.


"A handful of agents, members of the CGT union, a minority union within the institution, decided to block access to several household waste transfer centers. This irresponsible behavior prevents the proper conduct of collection", Marseille's administration said in a statement.


Labour disputes in crucial infrastructure sectors are among the main headaches for the organisers of this year's Olympic Summer Games in Paris. France's hardline CGT union earlier this year said public sector workers, including hospital staff, have flagged possible strikes during the Games.

Though the right to strike is a constitutional one, French state authorities can issue 'back to work' orders to sustain minimum service operations if public order, hygiene, tranquillity and safety are at stake. Last year, such requisitioning orders were used to ensure sufficient supplies during a major strike movement at the country's refineries and fuel deposits.


The Olympic torch is set to arrive in Marseille on Wednesday, aboard a three-masted ship, with up to 150,000 people expected to attend th

ceremony in the southern city's Old Port.

(Reporting by Marc Leras in Marseille, Tassilo Hummel in Paris, Editing by William Maclean)