Force ouvirère

How people power during a bin strike helped end a union's dominance in Marseille

France

A 16-day strike by refuse collectors has just come to an end in the southern French city of Marseille. It was the third such stoppage there in three months and on the surface it was yet another routine dispute involving municipal staff in a city that is no stranger to industrial strife. But in reality the deal struck between the local authority and union officials, which came amid growing anger from local residents at the state of the Mediterranean city's streets, has ended an unwritten and cosy arrangement between City Hall and a favoured trade union that stretches back more than seven decades. Some observers have described the outcome as no less than a “revolution”. Olivier Bertrand explains.