Greek rubbish strike causes stink

A woman walks through rubbish in Athens Image copyright EPA
Image caption As the rubbish piles up, authorities in Athens have asked residents not to take their refuse out

Piles of rubbish have been mounting in cities across Greece since the start of the week in a dispute over thousands of refuse collectors' jobs.

Tourist areas of Athens were among those worst affected. Problems were also reported in the northern city of Thessaloniki and the island of Corfu.

Protesters marched on the interior ministry in the centre of Athens as a 24-hour strike took hold.

They fear up to 10,000 workers could lose their jobs as their contracts end.

At one point on Thursday, protesters set fire to rubbish outside the interior ministry and threw paint at the building. Riot police fired tear gas to stop the building being stormed, reports said.

For days, members of the municipal workers' union have blocked refuse lorries from entering the main depots as the dispute escalates, leaving some street pavements an obstacle course for pedestrians.

Holding your nose in Athens - by Kostas Kallergis, BBC News

Driving through Athens' central neighbourhoods this morning you cannot miss the piles of rubbish in every corner.

Pedestrians hold their noses as they pass the barricades of waste and at times cross to the opposite pavement. The situation is worse near businesses like restaurants which have big waste loads every day.

Greeks have known bin strikes in the past and try to keep their waste indoors for as long as possible. But a heatwave is on its way and a weekend stroll will be far from idyllic for Athenians and tourists alike.

Image copyright Twitter

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

The problem facing the government is that its attempt to renew the contracts of temporary municipal workers has been rejected by the courts as unconstitutional.

Interior Minister Panos Skourletis has promised the unions to find a solution, offering to provide 2,500 of the threatened workers with permanent posts.

Related Topics

More on this story