As gov’t grapples with trash impasse, some use private firms

As gov’t grapples with trash impasse, some use private firms

With local authority sanitation workers threatening to extend strike action through next week in a bid to secure permanent positions, the government is attempting to thrash out a compromise to the problem which is expected to involve a new round of short-term employment contracts.

Government officials are to meet early next week in a bid to break the deadlock with the country’s mayors demanding a solution by Tuesday.

Meanwhile the union representing local authority workers, POE-OTA, is urging its members to continue with a walkout even as temperatures continue to rise and a heat wave looms.

The likeliest solution will be for the government to offer hundreds of sanitation workers on short-term contracts extensions to their employment, probably new six- or eight-month contracts, sources indicated on Friday.

Workers walked off the job on Thursday, and called for rolling walkouts until next Thursday, in protest at understaffing and demanding permanent employment status.

They are scared of losing their jobs in the wake of a recent court ruling banning the extension of short-term state employment contracts. Interior Minister Panos Skourletis has indicated that some 2,500 sanitation workers on short-term contracts could be hired permanently.

Skourletis on Friday played down reports that his colleague Administrative Reform Minister Olga Gerovasili has a different point of view on the issue and said efforts were being made to break the deadlock.

In some municipalities, such as Thessaloniki, authorities have decided to tackle the problem by outsourcing garbage collection to private companies.

Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris told Kathimerini that he has arranged for the necessary funds to be approved “as it is a matter of public health.” “This situation cannot continue,” he added.

Meanwhile Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis called on authorities to find a compromise. “The government must find a legislative solution so that these people do not constantly find themselves in this situation and chiefly so that citizens are not inconvenienced,” he said.

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