Madrid rubbish piles up in the streets

Rubbish has been piling up in the streets of Madrid since street cleaners went on strike against layoffs and salary cuts at the beginning of November.

The strike does not involve the collection of rubbish from households, only the street cleaning.

The companies contracted by the city to keep the streets clean have announced over 1,000 job cuts and plans to reduce the salaries of the remaining work force by 40 per cent. Over 300 street cleaners were laid off in August this year.

The cleaners who have been called on to guarantee the minimum service required by law have been heckled, municipal rubbish collection trucks have had their tyres slashed and some bins have been overturned and set on fire. Tensions have been running so high that in some cases the police have been called on to escort workers.

The city can apply fines if the cleaning is not carried out as contracted but so far the city's mayor has held back from getting involved in the dispute.