On the picket line with Paris garbage collectors

STORY: At a depot near Paris, garbage collectors take turns to guard the entrance to the incinerator that burns the city's trash.

They're striking over French President Emmanuel Macron's pension reform, like many other workers.

It's been two weeks now that Regis Vieceli, Secretary General of the CGT garbage collectors' union in Paris, has been eating and sleeping on the picket line with his colleagues.

This is the boudoir, and out here is the garden he says, giving Reuters a tour of their camp.

Vieceli says Paris produces 1,000 tons of garbage each day and it has piled up on the capital's streets.

That has annoyed some Parisians and Vieceli says the workers don't like it either.

"It breaks our hearts also to see Paris' streets in this state. Our job is for Paris to be clean everywhere and for everyone, not just for Parisians. Let's not forget that Paris is the most touristic capital in the world and so on..."

Last week, the government pushed the reform through parliament without a vote.

It says it needs to raise the pension age by two years to ensure the system doesn't go bust.

That move prompted unrest - after weeks of protest - that poses a grave challenge to Macron's authority.

On Saturday (March 18) morning, ten of the striking trash collectors were requisitioned by the police to go out and work.

Vieceli says that won't be enough to clear the streets.

A day of nationwide industrial action is scheduled for Thursday (March 23) and garbage collectors, like other sectors, are getting ready.

Vieceli is planning for them to wear their distinctive green overalls.

He tells them: you'll be heroes on that day.