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Greece’s Trade, Tourism Bodies Call for Solution to Garbage Strike

The Athens Trade Association is calling on the city’s mayor to address the problem of the rubbish on the streets of the Greek capital, a result of a garbage strike launched by municipal trash collectors.

“Do not throw the city’s trade world into the rubbish,” the president of the Athens Trade Association, Stavros Kafounis, said in a letter on Monday to Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis referring to the issue of waste.

“Today, when the capital city attempts to become a powerful tourism destination and to benefit not only the business community but society as a whole, it is unacceptable that the central administration is inactive, allowing for phenomena such as what we are facing today with the garbage,” the letter said.

Kafounis called for the municipality to immediately respond to the problem as everyone’s patience is now exhausted.

The nationwide garbage strike was launched last week by the union representing garbage collectors (POE-OTA) over a job dispute with the Greek government involving the rehiring of contract workers whose employment status has expired. The strike is coinciding with an expected heat wave as well as the beginning of the country’s tourism season. Concerns over public health risks and the impact on tourism have been expressed.

Some smaller municipalities and islands have temporarily hired private contractors for their rubbish collection.

At the start of the strike last week, the president of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), Yiannis Retsos, called for a solution.

“There can not be tourism with rubbish gathering in the streets of Athens. Initiatives and an immediate solution to the problem are needed,” he said on his Twitter account.

The president of the Athens – Attica & Argosaronic Hotel Association, Alexandros Vassilikos, also took to social media to express his concern.

“Athens is the city that we live in, work in, and host in. A solution regarding the issue of waste collection in the municipalities must be found immediately,” he said on Facebook, adding that the situation is spinning out of control.

On Monday, Interior Minister Panos Skourletis and POE-OTA unionists held talks but failed to reach a solution and end the garbage strike. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has invited the unionists to a meeting on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a Greek prosecutor launched an investigation into whether anyone should be charged over the piles of trash on city streets.

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