In a bid to resolve a dispute with municipal sanitation workers that has resulted in tons of trash piling up on the streets of Athens and other Greek cities, the government is on Monday to submit in Parliament a legislative amendment foreseeing thousands of permanent hirings.
Following a crisis meeting late on Friday which was chaired by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Interior Minister Panos Skourletis said on Saturday that a potential solution had been found.
An amendment is to be tabled in Parliament foreseeing the recruitment of 2,500 local authority sanitation workers on short-term contracts on a permanent basis.
As it will take a few months before the competition for the jobs can be held, short-term job contracts will be extended by six to eight months in the meantime, the minister said.
According to sources, the new jobs would be paid for from the municipal charges paid by citizens.
However, it remains unclear what the opinion of Greece’s international creditors will be about the initiative and whether it will result in calls for fewer hirings in other key sectors such as health or education.
Responding to news of the government overture, a spokesman for the POE-OTA municipal workers’ union on Saturday told state television that “it falls far below our demands” but that unionists would scrutinize the proposed amendment once it is presented.
Since it called a 24-hour strike last Thursday demanding job security in the wake of a court ruling banning the extension of short-term employment contracts in the state sector, POE-OTA has threatened to extend its protest action through to next Thursday unless the government addresses its concerns.
Meanwhile the tons of trash that continue to fester on the streets are turning into a public health risk as a heat wave is predicted for the end of next week with temperatures set to reach 39 degrees Celsius.
Some municipal authorities have decided to tackle the problem by outsourcing garbage collection to private firms.
Skourletis on Saturday appealed to local mayors not to resort to this line of action, saying the dispute will be resolved in due course.