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Local News Summary of May, 15th

  • French railway strikes paralyse Basel-Paris train route again
  • City cleaners to dispose of commercial waste only as required by law
  • No approval for «March against Syngenta» through Basel’s inner city

French railway strikes paralyse Basel-Paris train route again

At the beginning of the fifth week of the French railway (SNCF) strikes, many trains were yesterday (Monday) cancelled once again Only one in three regional and high-speed trains (TGV) and only one of five Intercity trains was running to schedule. Two out of four TGV connections on the Basel-Paris route were also cancelled.

Other regional trains to and from Basel may also be cancelled as a result of the strike. Information on connections can be found on the SNCF website.

Government under pressure

The unions are increasing their pressure on the French government with their strike action in a dispute over a railway reform. Employees are also being asked by unions about the continuation of the strikes.

The French state railway company, SNCF, said it had been a «very difficult» day for travellers. Even more connections were cut yesterday than on Sunday.

For several hours, nothing was running in the southern French city of Marseille. The trade unions had called for a «dead station» action to be put in place, resulting in SNCF staff blocking the entrances to Saint-Charles central station.

Macron wants competition

Three large trade union federations are questioning the nearly 150,000 railway employees on the continuation of the strikes, which will take place until 21st May. The strike action will end days before the controversial railway reform will be discussed in the French senate.

French president Emmanuel Macron has so far stood his ground: he wants to open up passenger transport to competition from 2020 onwards, as decided by the European Union. In addition, his government has announced that it will abolish the almost 100-year-old railwayman statute, which guarantees early retirement for many employees and the right to fight a termination of their employment. The reform is to pass in the parliament by the summer.


City cleaners to dispose of commercial waste only as required by law

In the future, the cleaning department of Basel’s Civil Engineering Office will focus on its legal mandate for the disposal of city waste. Businesses which also want to dispose of waste have to rely on private companies.

Basel’s Civil Engineering Office has the legal mandate to collect and dispose of municipal waste from households and businesses. In addition, the office has so far also disposed of company-specific commercial waste. This waste includes, for example, waste in containers, broken glass, tin, files, electronic waste, hazardous waste, food waste, and waste oil from restaurants, hospitals, retirement and nursing homes, university institutes, and other companies.

The Civil Engineering Office will now gradually discontinue the disposal of this commercial waste in the coming months. Last week, those customers affected by the move were informed that the civil engineering office did not renew the relevant contracts. «By focussing on the legal mandate, we stick to our basic mission and leave the disposal of commercial waste to the free market», Dominik Egli, head of the city cleaners, said.

The Civil Engineering Office will continue to collect and dispose of waste from commercial companies with contents and quantities that are comparable to household waste.

No approval for «March against Syngenta» through Basel’s inner city

Basel’s cantonal police have denied approval for a demonstration against pesticide producing companies to go ahead in the city centre. Organised by the Social Democrats (SP), the Green Party and BastA!, the «March against Monsanto and Syngenta» was scheduled to take place in the city centre. The petitioners are now announcing that they will instead conduct the demonstration on Saturday across the Wettsteinbrücke.

The «March against Monsanto and Syngenta» will be held for the fourth time in Basel on Saturday, 19May. The demonstrators want to draw attention to the role of seed producers in climate-damaging food production, the poisoning of soils and groundwater, and the damage caused to people across the globe.

The procession will march from Barfüsserplatz to the Syngenta headquarters near the Badischer Bahnhof. Last year, the demonstration route had to be led over the Wettsteinbrücke instead of Marktplatz for the first time due to the restoration of the Mittlere Brücke. This year, however, the organisers wanted it to go ahead on the Marktplatz- the political centre of Basel.

Explanation too vague for demonstrators

After a conversation with the initiators of the demonstration at the beginning of May and a discussion about the petition, the police management rejected the planned route via Marktplatz shortly before 5pm yesterday. Some of the reasons for the refusal included disruption public transport and complaints from shop owners and the Basel Transport Services.

The organisers behind «March against Monsant and Syngenta» are now considering legal action, as soon as a written statement of reasons for rejection is issued by the Basel cantonal police. The demonstrators also address Baschi Dürr, head of the police department, directly in an interpellation. This year, the applicants will once again lead the demonstration across the Wettsteinbrücke, as they announce in a media release. For the future, however, they want to fight against their «displacement from the city centre».

The Democratic Jurists of Basel (DJS) have also expressed their criticism of the cantonal police's decision. As they state, traffic would be blocked over a longer period of time also on the Wettsteinbrücke and the Claragraben, but there will be less publicity for the demonstration as well. This counteracts the aim of a demonstration, namely to send a political message to passers-by.