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Rubbish Piles up as Greek Municipal Workers Stage Second Strike Over Contract Dispute

Ever-mounting piles of rubbish were festering in the streets of Greek cities Thursday as municipal workers staged a second strike in a week in solidarity with refuse workers embroiled in a contract dispute.

AFP

Updated:June 29, 2017, 6:47 PM IST
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Rubbish Piles up as Greek Municipal Workers Stage Second Strike Over Contract Dispute
Municipal workers shout slogans during a demonstration outside the Greek Prime Minister's office in Athens in Greece, on June 27, 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis)
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Athens: Ever-mounting piles of rubbish were festering in the streets of Greek cities Thursday as municipal workers staged a second strike in a week in solidarity with refuse workers embroiled in a contract dispute.

Refuse collectors demanding the renewal of their work contracts have been off the job for the past ten days, leaving mounds of trash to pile up in soaring temperatures in Athens and several other cities.

More than 1,000 people descended on central Athens to attend a demonstration called by a municipal workers' union, according to police, who were expecting the protest to grow in advance of an afternoon rally outside parliament.

A rally last Thursday to protest Greece's economic woes drew a crowd of some 5,000.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras meanwhile received a union delegation, promising to extend the refuse collectors' contracts and to ensure new hirings would be on an open-ended basis.

"Even so, the union decided not to suspend their action," government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos regretted, while accusing the main opposition New Democracy party of being behind the strike.

"It is clear the goal of the strike is no longer to defend the interests of contract workers," but "to deal a blow to the government, the victims being the public, the workers themselves and public health," Tzanakopoulos added.

The executive committee of the union, which says 6,500 workers risk having short-term contracts expire, was due to meet later Thursday to discuss whether to continue its strike at the height of the tourist season.

Amid seething popular discontent against austerity measures imposed by international creditors, waste management has become a recurring source of contention in Greece, where a recruitment freeze means many workers are only being offered temporary contracts.

Last week as rubbish piled up across the city, Athens municipal authorities urged residents not to take out their waste as temperatures soared.

The weather will provide no immediate respite with this weekend set to see a heatwave as the thermometer hits 44 degrees Celsius (111 Fahrenheit).

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| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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