Soldiers might be mobilized as row between municipal staff and private workers continues
The government reportedly asked the country’s armed forces to help with a cleanup of thousands of tons of trash from the streets of Athens on Monday as municipal garbage collectors sought to thwart the efforts of private trucks to collect the rotting garbage.
Private vehicles, commissioned by the government over the weekend to collect thousands of tons of garbage, were able to gain access to the capital’s main landfill, which was being guarded by riot police on Monday.
But protests by municipal workers, whose two-week blockade of the landfill led to trash heaps building up in the streets, intensified.
One truck was firebombed by a crowd of angry men early on Monday in Nea Ionia, northwestern Athens – an attack that damaged the truck but caused no injuries to the driver. In another incident in the same area, a municipal worker is alleged to have beaten the driver of another truck.
By the early afternoon, media reports said that the Defense Ministry had been asked to intervene in the dispute. According to sources, 170 professional soldiers are to be assigned to drive municipal garbage trucks. The ministry had not officially confirmed the reports by late Monday.
Meanwhile the hearing of an appeal lodged by Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis, who has called for the ongoing action of municipal employees’ to be declared illegal and abusive, was postponed due to a lawyers’ strike.
There were similar problems in Thessaloniki too, where similar protest action by municipal street cleaners has caused a trash problem and a political row. Thessaloniki’s Mayor Yiannis Boutaris and the regional governor of Macedonia, Dionysis Psomiadis, passed the buck to each other regarding who is responsibility for the cleanup. Boutaris suggested that a private initiative might help Thessaloniki too, noting that “the whole debate surrounding privatization should be demystified.” The municipal workers’ blockade of the Mavrorachi landfill has resulted in some 2,000 tons of trash accumulating on the streets of Thessaloniki. An estimated 6,000 tons of garbage is being gathered from the streets of Athens.