By Christophe Hadjigeorgiou
Dustmen in Strovolos, Nicosia, went on a 48-hour strike on Thursday in protest against municipalities, who they accused of hiring private contractors for rubbish collection.
The first strike, lasting 24 hours, took place on June 21 and ended in a deadlock when the mayor insisted on privatising rubbish collection services.
According to Sidikek-Peo union its members are “vigorously reacting to the mayor and city council’s insistence on paying for services from private companies.”
The mayor of Strovolos responded to the strike, saying that the issues of cleanliness and waste collection were so great it required outsourcing to private companies.
He reassured the unions and employees that they would not be affected or lose their jobs, and reminded them that strikes only harm the efficiency of the system.
The last straw for the Strovolos dustmen, members of various trade unions, was when they realised that the municipality had begun outsourcing tasks other than garbage collection to the private sector.
Unions had previously mentioned that this leads, on the one hand, to a lower recruitment of municipal dustmen, and, on the other hand, to lower salaries and possible illegal employment because some companies do not provide collective agreements to their employees.
Trade unions Sek and Peo have been holding meetings with dustmen across all cities for months in an attempt to convince the municipalities together to stop passing the work to private companies.
A solution the unions offered in order to reduce costs and increase efficiency has been to cluster garbage collection services among neighbouring municipalities.
This policy began with the economic crisis, when vacant positions would not be filled resulting in crews being unable to cope with the workload.