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Holiday mountains of garbage in Athens

22 December 2010 / 12:12:26  GRReporter
4544 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

Tons of waste "adorned" a lot of neighbourhoods in the centre of Athens in the last few weeks. Mountains of garbage really block the streets and the smell they bring forces people to change their route home.

According to some estimates, there are around 5000 tonnes of municipal waste in and around the bins to the delight of rats and cats.

Some even jokingly put lights on the mountains of garbage as a few days before Christmas Athens looks like a big dump.

The main reason for not collecting all the waste is that the cleaning municipal department still does not function properly because the workers have not been paid overtime compensations yet. Residents, however, are difficultly hiding their anger. Here's what Mrs. Sonia from the Neos Kozmos neighbourhood told GRReporter:

"The situation with waste is already unbearable. We, the residents, pay municipal taxes without reduction and rescheduling. Can’t we have at least clean streets and sidewalks? I am not the one to determine how the public sector has to operate and whether staff appointments are legal. I want the waste to be collected every day and on time and to count on the mayor I have voted for. I will not comment on the behaviour of some fellow citizens who, during the strike, dump not only their household waste but also loads of bulky items such as old beds, mattresses, etc. This is a matter of culture and manners."

According to the chairman of the executive committee of municipal workers Themis Balasopoulos, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that workers on temporary contracts will be or have been dismissed and the permanent staff is not sufficient for the collection of waste. The Panhellenic organization of local governments stopped working for three hours yesterday from 12 o’clock at noon to 3 o’clock in the afternoon for these demands. The court, however, determined still a week ago the strike of workers in the municipality of Athens as an act of illegitimacy and abuse.

According to a municipal councilor who asked to remain anonymous, “the shared secret, however, is that workers on temporary contracts are those who conscientiously do their work in all municipalities. Those permanently assigned do it when a change in position is promised to them, which happens quite often. Of course, not all workers are the same, but in this case most of the cleaning department employees that are permanently assigned do not do the job for which they have been employed and have transferred to other municipal services.”

Municipal workers criticism is targeted to the current Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis. They accuse him of being incorrect because despite the numerous promises they are not yet paid their overtime compensations, which amount to 1.5 million euros.

However, the new Mayor George Kaminis, who will take the lead of the municipality on January 1 stated that "the cleaning system is in complete collapse" and added that "its organization and management have proved completely ineffective."

Meanwhile, the deputy mayor on cleanliness and environmental issues George Dimopoulos stated again that the Greek capital will be cleared of waste within two days. He stressed in parallel, however, that it all depends on whether the landfill will operate or the workers will continue to strike.


Tags: SocietyStrikeWaste
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