The stench of corruption takes a break as Almuñecar binmen go on strike and methane gas escapes from Granada landfill site
THE province is set for a summer of discontent as a popular tourist destination drowns in a sea of uncollected rubbish.
An indefinite strike by 80 workers at the private company in charge of refuse collection in Almuñecar has led to an estimated 800 tonnes of rubbish overflowing from the town’s bins.
Employees at Mirlo went out on strike at midnight on August 3 over a 12-month delay in the implication of improved working conditions.
Although there is a minimum service of two rubbish collections a week, 600 tonnes of refuse littered the town’s streets within the first 48 hours of the strike – which has the full backing of trade union CCOO.
Health officials have moved to dismiss fears the strike poses a risk to public health. “Yes, there are going to be unpleasant smells but at the moment there are no sanitary risks,” a Granada health official said.
Town mayor Juan Carlos Benavides slammed the strike, calling it “illegal” and “savage.” Speaking to defend the town hall’s position, he said: “We have fulfilled all of our contractual obligations towards the cleaning company, whose workers are acting outside the limits of legality.”
He added if the strike continues the town’s popular summer feria will be cancelled.
The Junta de Andalucía also came in for stinging criticism from Benavides, who claimed the minimum two-day collection service – imposed by the regional government – was “insufficient.”
Benavides also fears for Almuñecar’s tourist industry as the strike has hit during the peak time for visitors to the Costa Tropical town.
“The people of Almuñecar should not be used as pawns in trade union games. The image of our good town is suffering as a result of this illicit protest,” he said.
His fears are backed by many visitors to the town. One British tourist told the Olive Press: “I like visiting the place but the smell is becoming unbearable.”
Rafael Lamela, the head of the town’s association of hoteliers, said the strike is damaging the town.
“This is can only be prejudicial to not only the hotel sector but Almuñecar on a whole. We need a rapid solution to this problem.”
Meanwhile, there are fears that deadly methane gas is escaping from a landfill site, which has been left unattended for 25 days.
Workers at the dump in Alhendín have not treated refuse since a fire destroyed machinery in mid July.
Residents of nearby La Malahá have complained of “nausea and headaches,” generated by methane gas escaping from the landfill site.
Town councillor Félix Urbano said: “The more the rubbish decomposes in the air, the more health problems we will face.”