An ongoing strike by municipal workers, including garbage collectors, launched on June 19 has led to a major trash buildup across Greece, raising fears over health conditions in major cities, including Athens. Meanwhile, high temperatures are expected to continue in the country, with current forecasts warning that temperatures in Athens could reach 43°C (109°F) by the end of the week. The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that the accumulation of garbage combined with soaring temperatures create breeding grounds for infectious diseases, carried by an increased number of rats and stray animals who are attracted by the garbage. The garbage worker strike is expected to last until at least Thursday, June 29.
On Monday, June 26, some municipal crews agreed to collect garbage in busy tourist areas, outside hospitals, and near major road intersections. However, these crews are set to participate in a 24-hour strike on June 28. Some municipalities, including Thessaloniki, have hired private sanitation workers to deal with the crisis; however, the measure has been deemed unsustainable.
Finally, striking workers are set to hold protests in central Athens on Wednesday and on Friday, June 30. Due to the tense nature of the situation, violence cannot be ruled out.
Protesters are demanding that around 10,000 contract municipal workers be permanently hired by the government, amid concerns over job security as Greece enters its seventh year of austerity measures. Interior Minister Panos Skourletis had offered to hire 2500 workers permanently, but this was rejected by the municipal workers' union.
Individuals are advised to avoid protests and monitor developments to the local health situation.
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