Trash has begun to pile up on the corners of streets near our apartment as well as the rest of the city. Stray cats, and other animals I’m sure, scavenge in the overflowing garbage bags decorating the curb. The municipal sanitation workers have gone on strike.

This is in addition to the public bus strike that has been going on for a week, leaving us without public transportation (Read: we now have to pay for cabs to get everywhere). Yiannis Boutaris, mayor of Thessaloniki, said that when people cannot use the system-they turn to him. And legally, he can’t do anything about it.

Leonidas Makris, an advisor to the mayor, stated that the mayor has a symbolic role. Any decisions the Thessaloniki government makes has to go through levels of approval, and therefore they cannot have an immediate effect on the strikes.

The municipal sanitation workers are hoping the protest will put pressure on the government to give them permanent jobs, even though that is illegal in Greece. Until then, we are supposed to avoid taking out the trash.