France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned Thursday that he has “not ruled out the possibility” of breaking the ongoing strikes that have been rocking the country ahead of the Euro 2016 soccer competition due to start on Friday.
“I don't rule out any hypothesis by principle. All I wish, is to accommodate and transport safely the 80,000 spectators attending the matches,” he said in an interview with local media.
Trash has piled up in the streets, trains are at a standstill, while students and train unionists march in the streets over unpopular labor reforms. Rail workers have prolonged their strike until at least Friday for the 10th consecutive day on the lines serving Paris' Stade de France where the first game will take place. Waste collectors have also decided to renew their strike until Tuesday after 10 days of mobilizations, and despite a violent eviction by police forces on Wednesday.
"I would like the Euro to be a beautiful showcase for France," Valls told reporters. "France is ready to host the Euro, and everyone must show responsibility and patriotism at this time."
Meanwhile, Air France pilots announced their plan to strike from Saturday to Tuesday, which will also be a day of a national mobilization against the labor reform.
As the government has failed to reach an agreement with the angry workers, Prime Minister Valls and President Francois Hollande both threatened to respond with stronger force against social movements on Thursday, on the eve of the tournament's opening match between France and Romania.
"I will be paying close attention tomorrow and if decisions need to be made, they will be made," Hollande said, adding he was ready to take "all necessary measures" to ensure rolling transport strikes don't disrupt the smooth running of the month-long competition.
"Rest assured that public services will be provided and that the state will assume its full responsibilities," the president told reporters in his heartland of Tulle in the Correze, although he added that breaking the strike was not on the agenda “yet.”
The threat of using force against social movements comes as the government set up stringent security measures in the wake of last year's terror attacks in the capital, mustering up to 90,000 police and private guards to provide security for the tournament.
France's Sport Ministry confirmed Thursday the prohibition of broadcasting matches outdoors on giant screens, and possibly even on cafes' terraces, depending on local authorities' decision.
In the southeastern city of Marseille, three local police officers caused a scandal by demanding a bar owner remove the TV screen set up on the terrace, saying they were acting “on orders in anticipation of the Euro 2016.”
This news, reported on June 8, sparked outrage among other bar owners in the district, prompting local authorities to deny the existence of a ban on screens on terraces, arguing they were only “non-binding recommendations” to local city halls.