Trash Piles Up in Madrid as Strike Enters Seventh DayEmma Ross-Thomas
Trash piled up on the streets of Madrid as cleaners struck for a seventh day over plans by companies including Fomento de Contrucciones & Contratas SA to cut wages and jobs.
FCC, along with Obrascon Huarte Lain SA and Sacyr SA’s Valoriza unit, proposed cutting around 1,000 jobs in Spain’s capital city, said a spokesman for the companies, who asked not to be named. He declined to comment on the wage cuts, which unions say amount to as much 40 percent.
“The strike is indefinite, we’re not going to sign an agreement that pushes some of us into poverty and the rest into unemployment,” Jesus Fernandez, head of private services at Comisiones Obreras union, said in a telephone interview. “How long will it last? Judging by the irresponsible attitude we’re seeing, we may all die of disgust.”
Passers-by navigated piles of trash obstructing sidewalks, with some holding hankerchiefs over their noses against the stench. Madrid city hall said yesterday it would send more police to shield workers fulfilling minimum-service agreements from picketers. In the conflict, 260 bins have been set alight, the city hall said.
Municipalities are reining in budgets after the end of a decade-long construction boom that swelled their coffers. FCC saw revenue from its Spanish environmental services unit fall 3 percent in the first nine months of the year, mainly due to spending cuts by local governments.
The 2 billion-euro ($2.7 billion) road-cleaning and park maintenance contract, which came into effect on Aug. 1, offered the same services for 40 percent less than the previous contract, the unions’ Fernandez said. The companies’ representative and a spokeswoman for Madrid declined to comment.
Fernandez, the union spokesman, said companies want to cut wages by about 30 percent in cash terms or 40 percent taking into account changes to working hours and holidays. The average salary of those affected is about 900 euros to 1,300 euros, he said.