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Madrid mayor gives cleaning companies strike ultimatum

Botella says contractors have 48 hours to cut a deal and meet minimum services in capital’s streets

Mayor Ana Botella at a press conference on Wednesday. Ampliar foto
Mayor Ana Botella at a press conference on Wednesday. EL PAÍS

Madrid Mayor Ana Botella has given the companies contracted by City Hall to provide street-cleaning services in the capital a 48-hour deadline to start fulfilling minimum service requirements and come to an agreement with labor unions to end a strike, which is now well into its second week.

The Popular Party politician, who has received heavy criticism in the foreign press over her handling of the stoppage, said “Madrid cannot wait any longer for [the two sides] to come to an agreement.”

The conflict was sparked by the announcement that the city contractors were to lay off 1,134 employees under a labor force reduction plan.

Four out of every 10 street cleaners and gardeners should have been deployed in the capital to meet minimum service requirements since the start of the indefinite strike nine days ago. But according to both City Hall and the cleaning companies themselves, these minimum levels have not been met on any day, leaving trash piling up in the city.

The companies say violent pickets have been preventing employees from heading out to work, while labor unions say staff have not been working because they lack regulation uniforms.

Botella said public company Tragsa would take charge of fulfilling minimum services once a complaint had been filed with the public prosecutor, with the resulting costs being passed on to the contracted companies.

Regarding the criticism City Hall has received about its inaction and possible health risks, the mayor explained that “no risk exists to public health and we are working to make sure that that risk does not exist.”