Dustbin stink clings to Salonica

Although a Thessaloniki court yesterday declared illegal a local refuse collectors’ strike, the festering week-old mounds that disfigure the northern port will continue to grow today, as strikers are to maintain their action under the cover of a different union. Shortly after the eight-day strike was ruled illegal, the national union of municipal employees (POE-OTA) called two new rolling 48-hour strikes until Thursday, which will only apply to Thessaloniki. Apart from abstaining from refuse-gathering, strikers – seeking payment of productivity bonuses – are also occupying the Town Hall. This is playing havoc with preparations for Sunday’s municipal and local elections. Yesterday, a Thessaloniki prosecutor ordered an investigation into why the city’s rubbish was staying on the streets. Some 5,000 tons had piled up by yesterday, and the mess is expected to increase at the rate of 600 tons a day. Conservative Mayor Vassilios Papageorgopoulos – who is seeking re-election on Sunday – yesterday accused his main opponent, PASOK-backed Spyros Vougias, of inciting the strike.