Tension rises in trash collecting feud

Tension between the government and garbage collectors escalated on Friday as Deputy Interior Minister Paris Koukoulopoulos announced that garbage collectors who prevent collection and block landfills will be arrested, taken to court immediately and face a three-month prison sentence.

Speaking on SKAI television on Friday, Koukoulopoulos noted that an emergency order on health grounds was expected to be issued imminently by Health Minister Andreas Loverdos.

At the same time, Koukoulopoulos assured that garbage collection would start on Friday. The deputy minister said that municipal garbage collection workers will not be paid given that no services have been provided and defined the workers’ union tactics as a balancing act between the «Camorra and the Mafia,» though he did note that this assessment did not include everyone working the sector.

Koukoulopoulos’s take echoed that of Interior Minister Haris Kastanidis who warned Thursday that further strike action could lead to a possible change to the terms of the workers’ employment.

Meanwhile, Vassilis Polymeropoulos, head of the City of Athens garbage collection workers union, warned that if the government brings in private companies to collect garbage this would lead to «blood on the street» and the fall of the government.

Speaking on SKAI radio Friday, Mayor of Athens Giorgos Kaminis asked garbage collectors to think of their immediate future and show some self-restraint. Kaminis was among those assaulted in a meeting held at the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece on Thursday.

On Friday, Chief Athens prosecutor Eleni Raikou ordered a preliminary examination regarding the incident in which Neapoli-Sykeon Mayor Simos Daniilidis was also assaulted.

Meanwhile, about 22 illegal landfills around Attica were reportedly being used to deposit garbage during the strike.

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