Proposals to create a parallel bus-route from a gypsy encampment to the centre of French city Montpelier has met with approval by local government after a union member called the present arrangement a “sanitary risk”.
Despite the call for change by a member of the local FO union being based on the “unbearable” smell caused by the new commuters who use the number 9 Montpelier bus to travel into town, the idea has caused controversy with other unions operating in the town. Speaking after FO union members withdrew the service and submitted their vehicles for sanitary inspections with the local Committee for Hygiene, Security and Working Conditions, a CGT union spokesman said: “It’s a disgrace. Yes, there is a bad smell when Roma people are on the bus and we have pointed it out for two years but it’s not their fault.
“It’s because we’ve abandoned them so much that they don’t have a tap in their camp. They’re not animals. We shouldn’t attack poor people but poverty. It only shifts the problem. We don’t want to recreate apartheid in Montpellier”.
Although the bus has already been in effect suspended and is to be replaced by an outsourced company, presumably with un-unionised drivers, as FO union drivers have withdrawn their services on the number nine route, the European Union may step in and force it to resume as before. TheLocal.fr reports the comments of the European Roma Rights Centre, who said in a statement: “France is bound under European Union law to prohibit race discrimination (i.e. less favourable treatment based on race) in relation to all services, including public transportation.
“It seems very difficult to imagine how having a special bus for Roma could amount to anything other than unlawful discrimination. It stigmatizes Roma in ways that European anti-discrimination law was designed to prevent”.
Breitbart London reported last year on a similar scheme proposed in Italy, after a new Gypsy camp set up alongside a bus route rendered it unusable to more long-standing locals. The mayor of Borgaro, a suburb of Turin suggested running parallel bus-routes, after a spate of violent confrontations and robberies.
A “blonde haired Moldovan” using the bus described the scene when the bus stopped near the camp: “Everyone was attacked. They punched the ticket machine. Then they got on the bus and stuck a knife to my cheek… if it wasn’t for the bus driver, I don’t know how it would have ended”.
Others citizens said they had been spat upon, had their hair cut off, and had mobile phones and bags stolen. When Borgaro’s mayor said: “Two lines, one for us and one for them”, but insisted “It’s not racism, it’s just a way to solve a problem that has gone on for too long” he was reportedly met with cheers by locals.