2024 Paris Olympics

Paris Olympics medals production hit by strikes and protests

“Production of the medals is not blocked,” the French national mint, which is making the medals, said in a statement to NBC News.

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Already set with a piece of the Eiffel Tower, the medals for this summer’s Paris Olympics will now be infused with another quintessential feature of French life: strike action.

Dozens of workers at the French national mint, which is making the medals, are demanding the same “Olympics bonus” being paid to police officers and other government employees.

On Monday, around 50 workers demonstrated outside the mint and claimed that they had been able to disrupt medal production ahead of the Games, which start July 26.

“Stop the contempt!” the General Confederation of Labour union, or GCT, posted to X. “In this context of inflation, there is an urgent need to increase wages!”

The mint denied that production was affected for the roughly 5,000 gold, silver and bronze medals — each containing an 18 gram, hexagonal piece of iron taken from the Eiffel Tower.

“Production of the medals is not blocked,” it said in a statement to NBC News. “All of the medals have been minted and we are at the finishing stage. We will deliver on schedule and on time.”

It said that 2% of its 430 workers had been on strike Friday, falling to less than 0.5% by Tuesday, amounting to just two workers. Those demonstrating outside the mint had mostly done so on their break time, it said.

Officials will hope that this expression of union unrest is not a sign of things to come this summer.

The French are famously unafraid of strikes and direct action, from the “Gilet Jaune” movement to the farmers currently spraying government buildings with manure.

And the timing of the Olympics makes the event something of a double-edged sword.

It comes when many Parisians will be out of town, easing the burden on the city’s antiquated transport system during an event expected to attract 10 million visitors. But it also cuts right through France’s annual hallowed period of national vacation.

In a bid to stave off strikes, the government has offered state workers bonuses of between 500 euros and 1,500 euros for their efforts (around $530-$1,630). But that has not eliminated the possibility of industrial action altogether.

The CGT has already filed notices with the government that transport and medical workers could stage walk-outs, and warned that more could follow.

Meanwhile, officials are grappling with the security headache presented by Paris 2024’s unique opening ceremony. According to current plans, the Games will begin with a 10,000-athlete, 90-boat flotilla down the river Seine — the first time the inaugural part will happen outside of a single venue.

Another concern is the cleanliness of the river itself, which is scheduled to be used for the marathon swimming and the triathlon.

Authorities have already spent some 1.4 billion euros trying to clean up the famously dirty water, in which it has been illegal to swim for 100 years. But French charity the Surfrider Foundation said Monday that its tests had found often double and sometimes triple the permitted level of harmful bacteria in the river.

This article first appeared on NBCNews.com. Read more from NBC News:

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