Four-day-old mounds of rubbish grew higher on the streets of Athens yesterday as the government and striking municipal garbage collectors failed to reach a deal on ending the rolling 48-hour strikes that started on Friday. Interior Ministry Secretary-General Vassilis Valassopoulos said the impasse had forced the government to take the rubbish collectors to court in an attempt to have their strike declared illegal. The case will be discussed this morning. The people of Athens cannot be blackmailed at every holiday, at the end of each year, with rubbish being left in the streets, Valassopoulos said after meeting union representatives. The strikers want salary and benefit rises. But Valassopoulos said that to fully meet their demands would mean giving them a better deal than all other municipal employees. And then there were the banks that charged a commission of up to 300 drachmas on the euro coins, effectively treating them as foreign currency.