Trash-lined streets as workers strike in Greece

  • 27/06/2017
Sacks of rubbish grow in size under strike
A man walks past piled-up trash amassing under workers' strike. Photo credit: Reuters

Sacks of rubbish and rancid vegetables are piling high on the streets of Athens as city workers continue their strike.

Across the city, residents have reported growing numbers of insects, rats, stray cats and dogs; the carriers of infection increasing fears of a mounting public health crisis.

The labour dispute comes as Greece faces its seventh year of austerity demanded by international creditors.

Strikers fear job losses, and workers want better terms for short-term staff threatened by a court order banning extensions to their contracts.

Many residents, suffering under the same spending cuts, were sympathetic at the start, but support is straining as rubbish bags stack up in the steaming summer sun.

Pensioner Fotini Papadaki held her nose as she added her own bag to the mounds.

"It's deplorable, I understand job worries but taking it out on society is going too far," she said.

Around her, early morning commuters dodged the reeking sacks as garbage collectors and other municipal workers entered the second week of their walkout.

Authorities have asked people to keep their garbage at home, but for flat-dwellers like Fotini Papadaki, there is little room on their balconies.

Some municipalities, including Thessaloniki in the north, have turned to the private sector to alleviate the situation, outsourcing rubbish removal.

Nikos Trakas, head of a workers labour union, said they will step up labour action unless the government accepts their demands.

It is unknown how long the strained budgets can take the extra cost, and the strikers are showing no signs of backing down.