ATHENS – A strike by Greek garbage collectors has coincided with summer-like weather in October to have thousands of tons of rubbish overflowing out of trash bins that typically are on nearly most every street corner and otherwise picked up daily.
The stink is evident across the Greek capital, the major cities of Thessaloniki in the north, Patra in the west and across the country with the garbage going uncollected as worker protest a measure from the new New Democracy government moving toward privatizing their jobs, along with some lighting and parks and recreation projects.
Current laws allow private operations but the new measure would let ease them, which workers don’t want, fearing their jobs will be at risk as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said it’s part of his plans to bring growth to help accelerate recovery from a more than 9 1/2-year fiscal crisis.
There will be a 24-hour national strike of workers on Oct. 24 when Parliament takes up the bill, as a demonstration against the new government which won the July 7 snap elections, ousting the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA which vowed to help workers but diluted their rights.
The POE-OTA municipal workers’ union said the new provisions will also lead to an increase in municipal levies, said Kathimerini in a report on the action although some mayors promised not to fire any workers.
But Michalis Stavrianoudakis, General Secretary at the Interior Ministry, said with needs varying over different times of the year, a contract with a private firm to boost staff during busier months could help, especially in areas popular with tourists.
Despite efforts by workers to block access to the capital’s main landfill, 70 percent of garbage trucks deposited their loads at the dump site but dumpsters are still overflowing in many neighborhoods and municipal authorities appealed to citizens not to take their garbage out until it’s over.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)