Government blames opposition for collapse of talks with trash collectors


“The government will not allow the public’s health to be put at risk, but nor will it allow a public and sensitive service to be surrendered to private interests,” government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said on Wednesday, criticizing the opposition over an ongoing strike by trash collectors.

Speaking at a press briefing in Athens, Tzanakopoulos accused conservative New Democracy of torpedoing progress made in talks between the left-led government and representatives of the POE-OTA municipal workers’ union on Tuesday. He said the party pressured the members it has on the union’s board to vote against a recommendation to call off the weeklong strike, which has resulted in thousands of tons of rotting garbage piling up on the country’s streets.

The spokesman also accused New Democracy of trying to turn the fixed-term contract workers whose jobs are at the crux of the deadlock between the government and POE-OTA, as well as Greek citizens against the leftist administration.

Tzanakopoulos added that the only goal now being served by the strikers – whose demand that 6,500 fixed-term workers are hired on a permanent basis has been turned down – is to turn over sanitation services to private companies.