Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Drug crime concern mounts on Paris metro

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Unions representing staff on the Paris metro staged strikes on Friday to denounce rising crime linked to crack and heroin use on the network.

The CGT and SUD unions called for the walkout to protest the increasing presence of drug addicts at stations on the northern end of the lines 4 and 12.

Some conductors have resorted to skipping stations to avoid groups of users and dealers on the platforms, worried about them confronting their passengers.

“Employees and passengers are angry, exasperated and can’t put up with it anymore,” the CGT union said in a statement.

While noting that the problem of drug use in stations had persisted for several years, it had “significantly worsened” recently, leading to assaults and “psychological trauma”.

Last week the UNSA union, the biggest labour union among metro workers, joined with passenger advocacy group SOS Usagers to demand “urgent and serious measures” to remove addicts who were often “aggressive and dangerous”.

Union officials met with police and magistrates to discuss the problem Friday, as SOS Usagers denounced a situation that at times led passengers to crowd themselves into the first carriage to avoid addicts.

But the CGT said the absence of passenger associations at the meeting suggested the official response would focus on police crackdowns.

“We do not agree with this approach” since it has not proved effective in the past, CGT official Frederic Le Goff told AFP.

A front-page story Friday in the Parisien newspaper titled “The Zombies of the Metro” reported that police sweeps to remove addicts from areas near the Gare du Nord train station had driven them to metro stops further north.

The CGT said about half of the staff working on line 12 went on strike, thought the Paris transport authority called out additional drivers so that traffic was not disrupted.

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