French govt implores end to pre-Euros strike ‘mess’

Paris (AFP) – On the eve of Euro 2016, French Environment Minister Segolene Royal called for an end Thursday to “the mess” caused by transport and rubbish strikes that threaten to blight the football fiesta.

“People want things to return to normal, for the mess to end,” Royal told iTele, saying it was “not right for a modern country to continue being permanently disrupted.”

Addressing the unions behind the strikes that have severely disrupted regional and commuter trains and caused rubbish to pile up on the streets of Paris and Marseille, Royal warned: “France’s pride is at stake.

“Let’s not harm France’s capacity to organise global events.”

Sports Minister Patrick Kanner accused the hardline CGT and Sud unions, which are demanding the withdrawal of a labour reform bill, of “guerrilla” tactics.

“They’re spoiling the party. In spoiling the party, they’re spoiling the image of France,” he told France Inter radio.

Some two million foreign visitors are expected at the month-long championship, which kicks off Friday night when France host Romania at the Stade de France stadium outside Paris.

Beleaguered France, which has also been swamped by deadly floods in the past two weeks, is counting on the Euro to boost its bid to host the 2024 Olympics and recover from devastating terror attacks on Paris last year that killed nearly 150 people.

The November 13 outrage began at the Stade de France, when three suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the stadium during a France-Germany game.

With the French, British and US governments warning of further possible attacks on French soil, unprecedented security measures have been put in place for the championships, including at “fan zones” where supporters are expected to congregate.

“We should not give into fear,” Kanner said, adding that “everything is ready to safeguard the sites”.

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