Greater Lisbon rubbish strike causes chaos

LISBON WAS gripped by a four-day strike by rubbish collectors earlier this week.

Both rubbish collection and street cleaning services ceased on Monday after municipal unions and Lisbon Câmara failed to reach an agreement over filling job vacancies as and when they came up.  

The Câmara in a bid to cut down staff is not replacing some collectors on retirement or who leave the service.

Another bone of contention the unions have with the Câmara is over possible plans to put rubbish collection services out to a private company.

The Câmara has denied this strenuously claiming that it is only examining various management and efficiency plans.    

The Sindicato dos Trabalhadores do Município de Lisboa (STML) claimed on Tuesday that over 95 per cent of its members joined in to the strike contradicting Lisbon Câmara which put the figure at 60 per cent.

Staff needed

The strike involved around 2,000 collectors and street cleaners from Lisbon Câmara’s Department of Urban Hygiene and Solid Waste as well as its Department of Mechanical Maintenance.

“This strike isn’t justified at all,” said Urban Hygiene Officer, José Sá Fernandes, who said that a private concession for street cleaning and rubbish collection in Lisbon’s Baixa was merely being studied.

In addition, the council officer stressed that if the concession went ahead it would do so only for a trial period in that part of the city.

The union is insisting that an additional 200 members of staff be employed in the urban hygiene sector but the council officer explained that “Lisbon Câmara doesn’t have sufficient funds and can only employ a further 50 staff.”

José Sá Fernandes admitted that the strike was causing “enormous inconvenience for Lisboners since, in practice, it would result in five consecutive days without rubbish collection and street cleaning since it wasn’t done on Sundays.”

The President of Lisbon Câmara, António Costa, promised that the municipal authority wouldn’t transfer staff to other companies and that the unions were “seeing ghosts where none existed”.

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