Rubbish piles up as Greek council workers join strikes

Tons of garbage have piled up on the streets of Athens and other major cities this week, as municipal workers have joined in a series of strikes called by various labor unions protesting a development bill currently debated in parliament.

POE-OTA, the Panhellenic Federation of Employees in Local Government, held a march in the Greek capital on Wednesday, with demonstrators demanding the withdrawal of an article which opens the way for the privatization of sanitation, maintenance of public parks and street lighting services, as they claim.

POE-OTA has called for a 48-hour strike on Tuesday and Wednesday which was extended to Thursday, when the draft law is scheduled to be voted in the assembly, warning with further escalation of protests.

“The government, based on article 179, attempts to privatize the cleaning, public parks and lighting sectors. We will continue our strike action tomorrow as well, and then we will decide how we will proceed in coming days,” Nikos Trakas, POE-OTA President, told Xinhua after a meeting with the President of Central Union of Municipalities of Greece (KEDE) and Regional Governor of Attica, Giorgos Patoulis.

Labor unions expressed concerns that the provisions, which facilitate contracts with private garbage collection companies expanding their existing limited role in municipal services, will eventually lead to municipal workers’ firings.

POE-OTA’s three-day strike comes after walkouts which started on Saturday resulting in halting of garbage collection.

Municipal authorities appealed to residents not to take out their trash as long as possible, as dumpsters are overflowing.