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.

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