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Getting Messy

by Nomad Thu May 13th, 2010 at 10:35:47 AM EST

This is how two major cities in the Netherlands currently look like:



And it ain't over yet.

Waste collection has stopped in both cities since May 6. On top of that, any street cleaning in Utrecht has ceased since the end of Queen's Day, a national holiday celebrated with reverie on the streets, guaranteeing litter by the heaps. The only exception have been the streets perused for the Giro d'Italia, as the men and women on strike don't particularly take pride in seeing the waste pile up in their cities. We're 6 days further, not a bin has been lifted, the stink is beginning to set in. The strikes have been extended for another week.

The cause of the conflict: the annual negotiations for a collective agreement on pay and working conditions between workers and employers. The employers here being the cities, and the apparent crux being a (measly sounding) 1.5 % pay raise for the employers.

These strikes come in the wake of one of the longest, and most successful, strike actions by cleaning personnel who also were negotiating for a better collective agreement two months previous. (And they were rightly so, IMO, after having been squeezed for profit for years by their companies.) For nine weeks on end, trains and train station were not cleaned, occasional rallies and manifestations featured on train stations, the interior of trains got more and more gritty, waste bins began to overflow and Central Station in Amsterdam soon felt part of an underdeveloped country.

But public sentiment remained very high, with the exception of occasional neoliberal fundamentalists pissing their acid in public forums (and sometimes I suspect these are people who are paid for writing that sort of goo). Best of all: the personnel got what they wanted: a raise of 3.5 percent to start with, and also the guarantee for an important covenant on equal working rights not for the employing companies, but also for the large companies who are their clients.

The success of the previous strike action may have strengthened the resolve of the waste collectors and encouraged them to "dump" action on the streets. The value and services of waste collectors is lying on the streets in Amsterdam and Utrecht for anyone to see.

Up next in an already restless negotiation season: negotiations for public servants.

Pictures from NOS website and NRC Handelsblad.

You mean this is not a mafia ploy to get Berlusconi elected?

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 13th, 2010 at 10:56:56 AM EST
Thus, how is the Napoli waste management being resolved?
by das monde on Fri May 14th, 2010 at 03:51:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently it wasn't... Quelle surprise...

Naples waste management issue - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The new Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi took immediate action, and held his first cabinet meeting in Naples.[2] He then appointed a new waste commissioner, Guido Bertolaso (then the head of the Civil Protection Department). Bertolaso faced similar protests from the residents of Naples, but during June and July of 2008 he dealt with the problem. He opened new landfill sites and an incinerator. In addition he sent 700 tons of rubbish a day to incinerators in Hamburg, Germany, while new incinerators should be built locally.[3] By the end of July, Berlusconi declared that the emergency was closed.[4] By September the rubbish had gone from the streets of Naples[5],

In March 2009, waste commissioner Bertolaso was transferred to Rome, to deal with a fresh high-profile problem[citation needed] even though great amounts of garbage were still stocked in temporary sites awaiting to be disposed. Likewise, in many municipalities on Naples' periphery there is still a garbage problem. Though Berlusconi's actions have cleaned up the city of Naples, one account states that as of September 2009, "the highways and byways of the rural south remain festering dumping grounds.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Fri May 14th, 2010 at 05:45:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unless it's a sinister plot of Balkenende to protect his former spin doctor, and deputy minister of Defense, Jack De Vries, who has been embarrassed by the disclosure of his extramarital affair with his assistant. It's a bit Berlusconesque, I admit.

This being the CDA, the party of the family and values, it's particularly embarrassing - though not too surprising.

Dutch media pounce on minister's sex scandal | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

A sex scandal in Dutch politics - it's a rare phenomenon. Deputy Defence Minister Jack de Vries is sleeping in the barracks after being thrown out by his wife for having an affair with a junior colleague. The military unions say the minister's escapades have undermined his credibility. Some even see him as a security risk. And given that he's a member of a Christian party which pushes family values, there are cries of hypocrisy.

The former Christian Democrat spin doctor De Vries took his side of the story to the press as soon as the news of his affair came out. "I want to spend time to find a good solution for our private situation," he said in a statement.

But there has been a damning response to the deputy minister's antics. Wim van den Burg, president of the defence union AFMP/FNV, told Radio Netherlands Worldwide, "A member of the government who goes on about norms and values and then as a married family man starts carrying on with a much younger adjutant can't be taken seriously. Certainly a deputy minister who constantly preaches about family values - if he then starts an extramarital relationship with a subordinate, you've really got a problem."

The affair isn't just a private matter, says leader of Defence Personnel Union VBM/NOV Jean Debie in Dutch populist daily De Telegraaf. "The Defence Ministry's code of behaviour states that relationships at work have to be declared. De Vries hasn't kept to this so he can no longer demand it of his staff," he says. To make matters worse, the scandal has come to light just as the Dutch army is launching a `moral campaign' in response to reports of extravagant sexual behaviour among defence personnel and in the navy.

Of course the Tripoli air crash and the tenth anniversary of the firework disaster in Enschede are welcome distractions for the CDA, but I can only cheer on De Vries to persist in staying at his now untenable post for maximum embarrassment.

Less than a month to national elections.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Fri May 14th, 2010 at 05:55:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As someone not involved in any of this I'm of course intrigued by how much waste a city can produce, but I'm probably even more struck by how effortless modern society has become in processing waste.
by Nomad (Bjinse) on Thu May 13th, 2010 at 11:14:52 AM EST
I am taken aback at the amount of garbage I produce - and yet, it's a small amount relatively speaking. When I lived in the UK, I was shocked at how much more garbage most neighbours would produce. We never filled our rubbish wheelie-bin but many houses had more than one and they were full.

An ungodly amount of my waste is superfluous packaging, but there's also a lot of cans and jars, and some food waste (mostly due to the fact that I live in a very small household where we eat at work a lot, and it's difficult to buy small enough amounts of fresh food so it doesn't go bad.

When I was a child glass jars/bottles would be reused by returning them to any grocery store. That system was ended as an "improvement" ("nonreturnable glass" being billed as progress in institutional ad campaigns). At least now cans, glass, cardboard and tetra-brik are recycled (or at least collected separately as if for recycling).

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 13th, 2010 at 11:22:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect a huge amount of savings could be made with smarter packaging - somethings the late rdf would frequently talk about.

Recycling plastic has begun for earnest a few months ago in my town. Last month we unsubscribed the two wheelie-bins we had (one for waste, one for green waste). We now use a small container for green waste, and asked if we could empty it once every week in the bin of a neighbour. On a good week we fill our kitchen trash bin, whereas it used to be two-and-half.

It's the plastic wrappings that makes the difference. Every week a full bag to the container.

Cans are probably next on the list to get recycled here. I think it was Sweden where I noticed can recycling. I'm still amazed this isn't practice around here.

Oh, and I just read that tar is pretty effectively recycled, at least in the Netherlands (nearly 90 percent).

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Thu May 13th, 2010 at 06:07:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Recycling of beverage cans - as well as beverage glass and plastic beverage bottles - has been a success story in Sweden for a long time. With a small return (about 5 eurocents for a can) aluminium cans are recycled at rate of about 90%, iirc.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Fri May 14th, 2010 at 08:26:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Commission: Waste
As European society has grown wealthier it has created more and more rubbish. Each year in the European Union alone we throw away 3 billion tonnes of waste - some 90 million tonnes of it hazardous. This amounts to about 6 tonnes of solid waste for every man, woman and child, according to Eurostat statistics. It is clear that treating and disposing of all this material - without harming the environment - becomes a major headache.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 13th, 2010 at 11:24:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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