Cleaning up Palermo

Military helps clear the streets
(issue no. 104/2009 / June 18, 2009)

When piles of garbage lined the streets of the Sicilian city of Palermo in late May, following a week-long wildcat strike by local garbage workers, who refused to clear the city's rubbish without the proper equipment, like boots and gloves, the national government called in the army.

Facing a heat wave, locals began setting rubbish bins on fire to stave off the stench and potential health risks, as well as to voice their discontent over the strike.

Now, with the strike settled on June 7 and garbage collection resumed, 100 soldiers are also working around the clock and help clean up the mounds of rotting refuse around apartments, homes, churches and other public places.

Workers for the garbage collection firm Amia, which has more than 2,000 employees, agreed to resume garbage collection after some of their demands were met.

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