A municipal worker scuffles with police officers at the main entrance of the parliament building during a rally against job lay-offs affecting their sector, in Athens, yesterday.
The piles of trash on the streets of Athens and other Greek cities are expected to grow over the coming days as a job dispute between the government and local authority sanitation workers remains unresolved.
Thousands of municipal workers took to the streets of Athens Thursday, during a 24-hour strike called by their union POE-OTA, to demand job security following a court ruling that banned the extension of short-term employment contracts. The rally was marred by violence as protesters tried to barge their way into Parliament at one point, vandalized the metal shutters blocking the entrance of the Interior Ministry and set fire to piles of garbage from nearby dumpsters.
Later in the day, POE-OTA decided to continue its protest action until next Thursday with sit-ins at municipal offices and rallies. Meanwhile the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece (KEDE) said it would give the government until Tuesday to finalize a proposal aimed at ending the dispute. The proposal, which was made by Interior Minister Panos Skourletis Thursday during a meeting with KEDE officials, foresees extending the employment of workers whose contracts are about to expire until the end of the year.
More than 6,000 municipal sanitation workers stand to lose their jobs in the wake of a ruling by the Court of Audit which banned the extension of short-term employment contracts in the public sector. Skourletis indicated yesterday that the government would introduce an amendment that would partially bypass this ruling, protracting job contracts until the end of 2017. Specifically, Skourletis has indicated that 2,500 workers could be hired permanently.
It is likely, however, that any such amendment would also be shot down by the Greek judiciary.
Moreover, according to sources, the Administrative Reform Ministry has not approved Skourletis’s proposed hirings.
Meanwhile, as local and central government officials wrangle over jobs, the piles of garbage on the streets of Athens, Thessaloniki and other cities are growing even as temperatures rise and the peak tourist season looms.