Monthly Archives: November 2013

There is trash everywhere in Madrid

We are now in week two of the Limpieza strike in Madrid, by the city’s cleaners and gardeners. And I have to say, this is the first protest of the many I’ve seen since getting here that seems to actually be making an impact.

What the “strike” means is that cleaning services are operating at the very minimun possible — if I had to guess, maybe trash and recyclables are being picked up once every day or every other day. As a result, all the streets and trash cans are simply filled with garbage. In the plaza outside my piso, it’s difficult to even walk around because of the mountain of trash. It’s insane, and it makes Madrid look more like Delhi than a grand European capital.

WIth the education strike, it was a grand demonstration, but things went right back to normal the next day. The Cercanías strike is really not much more than a minor inconvenince. But this one, this strike by the cleaners, is something you see every minute of every day all around you. One-sixth of the workforce laid off, 40% cut in wages for those lucky enough to keep their job; I can’t say that I blame them.

Madrileños say this cleaners’ strike is unlike anything they’ve seen in Madrid in years, even decades. And as of right now, there’s really no end in sight.





Must-read: NYT piece on youth unemployment in Europe

An excellent story in the New York Times last week, on one specfic aspect of Europe’s economic crisis. I already knew that youth unemployment in Spain hovered around 57%, but I was unaware of how widespread that trend was in Europe. These are thousands and thousands of educated, smart Europeans with bachelor’s and even secondary degrees, and they are struggling and fighting to work in supermarkets and stockrooms.

Definitely worth a minute of  your time.

NEWS: Another grand protest in Madrid — this time, by the city’s cleaners


Hundreds of government workers in the cleaning and gardening services of Madrid held a protest tonight in Puerta del Sol that included bonfires, firecrackers, and trash being thrown around the plaza.

The protest came ahead of an indefinite strike planned by  workers in the “Limpieza” service that is set to begin at midnight on Nov. 5.

The workers are protesting a recent decision by the Madrid government that effectively lays off more than 1,100 of the city’s 6,000 gardening and street cleaning laborers. Moreover, in the contract negotiations between the government and the four staffing agencies for the Limpieza, the most recent offer would reduce Limpieza workers’ wages by more than 40 percent.


The Limpieza protest comes one week after a strike by the regional Cercanías train service workers in Madrid and two weeks after large nationwide strikes and demonstrations protesting education austerity measures.

Walking around the plaza, I saw hundreds of people tearing up paper and throwing heaps of trash into the air and around the plaza. I saw three or four bonfires that protestors had started with that trash and some Limpieza uniforms. I also heard more than a few firecrackers go off within the plaza, and the majority of the protestors were wearing Limpieza uniforms. There were, of course, the usual chants, marches, and megaphones present at all protest demonstrations.

Even Spaniards say […]