La huelga de limpieza
If you have been following my blog or if you live in Madrid, you have probably noticed the word huelga, or strike, a lot. There have been transportation strikes, teacher strikes, student strikes, and now we are in the midst of a huelga de limpieza viaria y de jardinería, a street cleaning and public parks maintenance strike. Unlike the ongoing RENFE transportation strike which still provides minimal transportation services and even tells us when workers will strike, this strike has essentially left us knee deep in trash.
You may wonder why the city cleaning staff of Madrid went on strike. Well, the workers are protesting an ERE (Expediente de regulación de empleo), which in U.S. English is roughly the equivalent of a massive layoff, within the cleaning companies. This layoff will also inevitably be followed by pay cuts. Originally, companies were planning on cutting 1,400 workers out of about 6,000 total in the city. When the workers found out about this back in October, they declared that they were going to strike. The companies did not want a strike to happen, so they reduced the number to about 1,100. Obviously, this slight decrease did not stop them from striking.
The strike began on the morning of November 5th. It was all over the news but no one was sure if it was really going to happen. That day, almost all of the street cleaners went to work. I assumed that nothing would happen. After all, other strikes, such as the RENFE transportation strike, did not seem very serious.
Almost ten days later and I am really sick of seeing this massive pile of garbage on my street. There have been countless protests and demonstrations and many vandals have been throwing extra garbage into the streets and on the sidewalks to make things worse. Most of the streets in my neighborhood are absolutely disgusting and it has been a challenge getting to work some days because I constantly have to dodge all kinds of trash: cardboard, food containers, water bottles, soda cans, sanitary napkins (GROSS!), and dog poop (EVEN WORSE!).
The trash cans and recycling bins are overflowing and it has reached the point where people just don’t care and simply throw their trash on the ground. The other day, I was walking around Sol (one of the busiest parts of Madrid) and I could not find a trash can that was not overflowing with garbage. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it on the ground like many others did, so I waited until I saw a discarded cardboard box, full of trash, and threw it in there.
The whole situation makes me upset because I have always thought of Madrid as a very clean city. Most people I know who have visited Madrid have always told me that it is one of the cleanest cities they have ever seen. If they were to come back today, they would probably run back to Barajas and catch the next flight out of Madrid!
Supposedly, representatives from the cleaning companies and workers unions have been meeting almost everyday to try to come to an agreement. This does not seem to be going anywhere. Yesterday, on Wednesday the 13th, the mayor of Madrid, Ana Botella, gave them a deadline. If by this Friday at 5pm they have not settled this issue and put an end to this cleaning strike, they will lose their contracts and Botella will hire another company.
Hopefully, this mayhem will end soon so we can enjoy walking through the streets of our city once again and relish in the beauty of the fall leaves-without all of this trash.
If you are interested in finding out more about this strike, check out the following links:
Para los que leen español: http://www.20minutos.es/noticia/1973591/0/huelga-limpieza/madrid-conflicto/claves-preguntas-respuestas/