Trash collectors protest at City Hall (Update)

A standoff between Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis and short-term municipal contract workers could soon result in piles of uncollected rubbish in the streets of the capital.

Employees whose short-term contracts have expired made their way into City Hall during a council meeting Tuesday while waving banners. The workers are protesting Kaminis?s refusal to renew their contracts or to make their positions permanent. The mayor, who says that he is simply following the law, is preparing to announce the hiring of 800 new employees on short-term contracts. The law on short-term contracts in the public sector prevents workers from immediately reapplying for a job. It was designed to curb permanent hirings through the back door.

Kaminis said Tuesday the whole process was tantamount to ?slave bargaining? and stated that he was committed to pressing for a change in the law so that the contract workers who remain without a job have a better shot at gaining another position in the civil service.

?I am not opposed to these people but I do not want to make promises that I cannot keep and to prolong an unacceptable situation,? he told Skai TV on Tuesday. Kaminis added that he had to proceed with new hirings to ensure that trash collections in the capital resume normally.

Meanwhile, workers at the Fyli landfill in eastern Attica said Tuesday they would not return to work until authorities guarantee them better security. The staff have been off work since Saturday after a group of Roma attacked a several their colleagues following the accidental death of a Gypsy youth who had been sifting through rubbish.

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