Garbage flies next to Spanish National Police officers on
the first day of an indefinite strike by street cleaners in
central Madrid. REUTERS/Sergio Perez
Plastic bags, bottles and autumn leaves began piling up
on the streets of Spain's capital today, the first day of an
indefinite strike by garbage collectors and gardeners over
proposed lay-offs and wage cuts.
Some 6,000 outdoor maintenance workers joined the walk-out at
midnight after private companies, contracted by Madrid's city
hall, proposed slashing salaries by up to 40 percent and
laying off 1,144 people, a union representative said.
"We are fighting for our jobs. We've been working for years
and they are going to kick us out with shameful severance
pay. These are people who have worked 28, 30 years," said
Angel Jornosa, 58, a gardener working for one of the
Among the companies with garbage, street cleaning and park
maintenance contracts in Madrid are units of infrastructure
firms and builders including Ferrovial, Sacyr , OHL and FCC.
A street cleaner in Madrid, a city of five million people,
earns 1,000 to 1,200 euros a month, said Felix Carrion, a
union representative at Spain's largest labour federation
Spain has made deep spending cuts throughout its public
services sector in an effort to reduce one of the euro zone's
highest public deficits, prompting mass demonstrations and
strikes by students, health workers and public servants.
Madrid has seen almost daily protests over the last few years
as the conservative government digs deeper into public
coffers to balance the books and show nervous investors it
can control its finances.
The cuts have done nothing to ease severe unemployment, which
has risen to record levels of more than 26 percent. Almost a
third of all those currently out of work in the 17-country
euro zone live in Spain.