Waste piles up on Greek streets

Waste piles up on Greek streets

The streets of an Island paradise, Greece, are facing the consequences of the ongoing dispute between the government and thousands of refuse collectors’ jobs. Piles of rubbish and stale waste have been mounting up in various cities across Greece, especially the tourist areas of Athens which are among the worst affected.

Around 10,000 temporary municipal workers fear that they could lose their jobs as their contracts end and the government’s attempt to renew their contracts was rejected by the courts as unconstitutional. However, minister Panos Skourletis has promised the unions to come with a solution, offering to provide 2,500 of threatened workers with permanent posts.  

On Thursday, protesters burned rubbish outside the interior ministry in Athens and threw paint at the building. Police fired tear gas to stop the building being stormed, BBC reported.

For days, members of the municipal workers’ union have blocked refuse lorries from entering the main depots as the dispute escalates. Pedestrians hold their nose as they walk across the streets filled with waste and stench all over.

The temperature in Athens on Thursday was 32 C and is expected to rise in coming days. Authorities have urged residents and businesses not to put out their rubbish.

Greece buries 80% of its rubbish which is over twice the EU average. At Fyli, there is a recycling plant but it only deals with a sixth of the waste that arrives here. Metal is removed for reuse, food is made into compost and some other items are converted into alternative fuel, mainly for the cement industry.

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Neha Katoch

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