POE-OTA, the union representing municipal sanitation collectors in Greece, on Thursday called off a garbage strike that had lasted nearly two weeks and left mounds of trash on city streets throughout the country.
The nationwide garbage strike was launched last week by POE-OTA over a job dispute with the Greek government involving the rehiring of contract workers whose employment status has expired. Unionists had met with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday but were unsatisfied by his proposals, resulting to the garbage strike continuing.
On Thursday, some 1,000 garbage collectors marched through central Athens and demanded an end to short-term labor contracts. Following the march, unionists decided to end the strike and hold meetings across Greece to evaluate proposals regarding further decisions on how to react to the government’s decisions on contract workers.
The strike was coinciding with a heat wave in Greece and authorities warned that the industrial action was endangering public health and also damaging the country’s image.
Before the strike ended on Thursday, Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura had said that tourism would suffer “bad consequences” if the strike continued. “All of this is at the expense of tourism, which is on a growth course with 90 percent of Greece booked for the summer. We have no cancellations, but if this continues we will have bad consequences,” she said during a radio interview.
“With these temperatures the health issue is most important… All foreign media are reporting that there is a huge garbage problem in Greece, which is a great defamation,” she had said.
According to reports, it will take up to five days of garbage collection for the situation to normalize.