Nea Ionia Garbage Piling Up – Striking Workers In Greece

nea ionia athens trash piling up due to striking workers

In Greece, trash and recycling is handled a little differently than in most parts of North America. Instead of a curb-side pick up where residents take their trash, recycling and compostable materials to the curb once or twice a week and drop it off in front of their house, Greeks take theirs to close-by neighbourhood bins whenever they want to get rid of stuff from their homes.

Usually, the bins are emptied nightly. When the system works, I like it because you don’t have to keep trash around for a week before “garbage day” arrives.

However this week, garbage collectors are on strike in Athens and Thessaloniki which is creating a big stinky mess in the locations of the garbage and recycling bins.

In Greece, it seems unions can walk out almost any time they want if they are upset with something on very little notice, and there are no or few penalties (as far as I can tell) for doing so. This time around, the complaint is about the new government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tabling new legislation in regard to union activities in Greece. Mitsotakis was recently elected on promises to bring about economic reform with the goal of trying to revive the depressed economy that Greece has been suffering under for the past many years.

In order to do that, Mitsotakis believes (and probably rightfully so) that government jobs need to be reduced and so is working on legislation that would give municipalities the ability to outsource some services to the private sector.

I can’t comment too much on whether Mitsotakis’ reforms will have much impact, either positive or negative as I don’t know enough about it here. I do know that he really needs to make some major reforms on many levels, including simplifying the tax codes (they spend far too much resources on trying to collect taxes when simplifying and reducing taxes would probably go the furthest to reduce tax avoidance), improving freedoms for individuals to start businesses, and reduce bureaucracy here. According to the World Bank, Greece is ranked #79 in the world on “Ease Of Doing Business,” even behind countries such as Turkey, Chile, and even Tunisia.

I am sure the Ancient Greeks in The Agora would be horrified at what has become of their country.

Business issues aside, it sure is getting smelly around here, but one saving grace is that this strike is not taking place during the hot dry days of summer. Although at this time of year, it is still quite warm relative to back home in Ontario. The high for today in Nea Ionia will hit 26C – hot enough to keep that garbage out there stinking to high heaven.

stinky trash piled up along sidewalk in nea ionia

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