On Thursday, March 22, around 5,000 municipal workers marched through Athens as part of an ongoing strike since June 19, prohibiting trash collection and causing a trash buildup throughout the country. There were brief clashes between protesters and police, with protesters setting fire to trash outside of the interior ministry and police using tear gas to prevent protesters from entering the parliament building. Further protests over the coming days are possible.
The trash buildup has particularly affected tourist areas of Athens, as well as Thessalonki and the island of Corfu. Authorities in Athens are urging citizens to refrain from putting out their trash. A predicted heatwave is expected to worsen the stench caused by the trash.
The protesters are demanding that around 10,000 contract municipal workers be permanently hired by the government. A Greek high court recently ruled that it is unconstitutional for the government to extend the workers’ contracts. The Interior Minister, Panos Skourletis, has offered to hire 2500 workers permanently, which was rejected by the workers’ union.
Individuals are advised to avoid all protests and remain vigilant.