Thessaloniki trash woes fuel clashes

Protesting municipal workers clashed with riot police outside the main offices of Thessaloniki’s city hall on Wednesday morning during a three-hour work stoppage by the employees who are protesting plans by authorities to transfer the job of maintaining and repairing garbage trucks to a private firm.

A group of angry workers aimed to stop the tender being launched for the job and also tried to stop colleagues attempting to enter the building to go to work. The protesters were pushed back by police.

Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris has called for a private firm to undertake the repair of 71 municipal garbage trucks, most of which have been lying idle for a year, in exchange for 2.3 million euros.

Workers object to the plan which they regard as conceding the competencies of the municipality and instead propose that the vehicles be serviced by municipal engineers in exchange for 140,000 euros while the remainder of the budget set aside for the private initiative be used to buy new garbage trucks.

This counter-proposal has been rejected as «unfeasible» by the mayor who has argued that if the problem is not solved quickly the northern port will be forced to endure another summer with its streets swamped in uncollected trash.