Workers at Limasa, the company in charge of Malaga’s rubbish collection service, have been striking for nine days, and the city is feeling the strain under more than 4,000 tonnes of discarded rubbish.
Since the strike began on March 1st, bins have gone unemptied in the city, causing locals and officials alike to lose patience with the Limasa workers, who are striking over working conditions.
They are protesting plans to cut annual holiday leave as well as calling for all the conditions of employment agreed upon in 2010; the last time conditions were validated, to be reinstated.
A 400-strong group of locals gathered outside Malaga town hall on Wednesday to protest the strike.
"They have no shame," a 55-year-old woman told newspaper El Confidencial. "We pay our taxes and they make a lot of money," she added, referring to comments made by the councillor in charge of rubbish collection, Raúl Jiménez, that the average salary of the rubbish collectors was €35,000.
To make matters worse for authorities in the southern Spanish city, over 150 overflowing rubbish bins have been set on fire, city hall officials have confirmed.
Early on Wednesday morning, firefighters were called out to 26 fires in rubbish containers around the city; two of which caused damage to cars parked nearby.
"God, this is inhumane, we are going to choke," tweeted one Malaga resident alongside a video of a burning dumpster.
Effect on tourism
The strike could have serious implications for Malaga’s traditional Holy Week celebrations, which draw hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
German tour operators have reported a downturn in bookings to the city as a direct result of the rubbish strike, reported regional newspaper Diario Sur.
"The images of the strike are doing a lot of damage," the president of the Association of Coastal Hotel Owners (Aehcos), José Carlos Escribano, said this week at the ITB Berlin, the world’s leading travel trade show.
Locals have been publishing photos of the mounting rubbish on social media.
Por dios que acabe la huelga en Málaga, deshaceos ya de la basura— gala (@gecesiete) March 9, 2016
Va y las bolsas de atrás que se las lleven también pic.twitter.com/8ZsQTliLmr
City hall response
On March 9th, Malaga's City Hall announced that the accumulating rubbish could pose a "public health hazard' and had therefore contracted two private companies to clean up the city.
The piles of trash also "posed a significant security risk for people or vehicles" added to the danger of rubbish being set alight.
The City Hall announced on Thursday morning that it had rejected the latest proposal from the Limasa workers and sent them a coutner-offer, which included the stipulations that the workers must not strike in 2016 and 2017 and do away with the practice of hereditary job positions within the company.