The streets of Athens, including major tourist areas, are filled with mounts of garbage as the municipal trash collectors continue their strike that started on Monday.
Municipal workers demand the permanent hiring of about 10,000 contract workers whose contracts have expired. Minister of the Interior Panos Skourletis had promised a few months ago that once their contracts expire, they will be renewed.
However, on May 10 the Court of Audit ruled that the renewal of contracts and the permanent hiring of contract employees is unconstitutional.
The municipal workers union POE-OTA met with the minister on Tuesday who promised that he will try to renew their contracts for two months and make 2,500 permanent hirings of cleaning personnel.
POE-OTA refused to accept the proposal and continues the mobilization. On Thursday morning they held a protest rally at Karaiskaki Square in central Athens.
Meanwhile, the trash mounts grow all over Athens and in other cities and towns across Greece. The stench is intense and the heat makes the atmosphere unbearable at some points, especially in densely populated neighborhoods. A heat wave expected over the weekend will only make matters even worse.
Tourist areas in the capital are no exception. The areas around Acropolis such as Syntagma Square, Monastiraki, Plaka, Mitropoleos Street or the Archaeological Museum of Athens are littered.
The City of Athens has issued a statement asking Athenians to not take their trash out as much as they can. “The municipality of Athens asks for the cooperation and understanding of its citizens regarding the problems in waste collection due to the mobilizations announced by all municipalities in the country and their union POE-OTA. The City of Athens urges residents and business owners of the city to contribute to the preservation and protection of public health and the image of Athens.”
Protesting municipal workers try to enter parliament
There was tension in the municipal workers rally that started at Karaiskaki Square and moved towards the Ministry of the Interior. When they reached the building at Klafthmonos Square, they tried to enter the building and set garbage on fire in front of the gate.
Then protesters moved towards the parliament. When some of them tried to invade the House, riot police pushed them away using tear gas.