Posts Tagged ‘Trash collectors’

Stockholm in tra$h uproar

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

[This will be a total rewrite, but as I don’t live in the motherland at the moment, I have to rely on larger news outlets. Apologies.]

According to newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, municipal authorities have been getting 17 times as many complaint calls from citizens regarding uncollected garbage bags, following the decision by Stockholm refuse collectors we reported on earlier this month.

In short, a conflict between contractors and their employees has led to a situation in which the refuse collectors refuse to carry more than what is legal, in manners that are legal, as stipulated in the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Trash bags heavier than 33 pounds remain uncollected, as do any bags positioned in a facility behind piles of snow.

City officials are of course blaming the contractors, who seems to have failed to comment properly so far..

Trash all over Stockholm

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Remember the trash collector wildcat strike that broke out in Stockholm exactly one year ago? Yesterday, the labour court came to a decision on issues in the aftermath. In short, the court ruled in favour of the tra$h company who fired wildcat striking trash collectors who wouldn’t accept a monthly salary, instead of the piece wages traditionally paid in the industry.

The union organizing trash collectors have (in outrage) responded to this by announcing that they henceforth will abide strictly to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which will be problematic to say the least. Union spokesperson Peder Murell issued the following statement to the Swedish Radio:

We will not haul trash bags heavier than 15 kilograms [33 pounds], we will not handle containers without wheels, we will not collect if snow hasn’t been shoveled away. I expect a lot of stuff will stay where it is.

As context, Stockholm has had its coldest January since 1987 and there is more snow than anyone can remember. To be continued.

Refuse collectors breaking apart

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Figures from the Swedish governmental institution tasked with keeping track of all possible statistics, Statistics Sweden, show that refuse collecting/recycling is the most common profession among people who divorce. In 2007 (the latest year for which we have complete statistics), over 7% of Swedish married refuse collectors/recyclers divorced.

Not much analysis has been presented with this news, but it is noted that among the top ten, nine professions are blue-collar jobs, with pilots and captains as the only white-collar profession (claiming the runner-up spot).

What we all crave to know of course is what it is about trash work that puts such hard strain on marriages. If anyone knows, do share!

The smell

Monday, August 24, 2009

Coming back to Brooklyn after a ten day temporary relocation to Kuala Lumpur was interesting. The 12-hour difference in time and 26-hour travel kind of killed any sense my body had of sleep and rythm, with the effect that I woke up at 11.30pm Sunday night, and had to do something until it was time to go to work.

After suggestions from anyone else in the world online and willing to advise on my predicament, a walk seemed to be a good idea. And it was. No matter where you are in New York, a 24-hour deli with coffee can be found. Sipping coffee in a park, listening to nocturnal creatures chirping in sync with traffic lights blinking was very nice. But one factor put a smear on this poetic moment: The smell.

I’ve read about it, I’ve heard about it, and now smelled it. August street trash. Walking ten blocks, I found four piles of putrid trash, some by themselves, some still covered by black bags. The smell emitting from these piles seemed to cover the entire neighbourhood, and having just showered felt less of a bliss, as I felt the stench fly to the fibres of my skin, hair and clothes.

Incidentally, the only other people roaming the streets were trash collectors in their big trucks, and as always I’m in awe of these heroes, whom without our society would be impossible, but seeing them tonight, working in this hellish environment, I’m lost for words.

For people who have lived here longer than I have: How long will this go on?

Newsflash: Trash collectors on wildcat strike?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sweden’s largest morning paper, Dagens Nyheter, reports today that about 150 trash collectors in Stockholm threaten to go on a wildcat strike any day now, over a salary conflict with the entrepeneur handling the garbage on behalf of the municipal. The conflict itself is pretty interesting, since trash collectors here have a contract structure in which they are paid a kind of piece wage, based on the amount of trash they collect.

The employer wants to pay them a flat monthly salary (a very standard way of doing things), which for most of the workers would mean less cash. And about 20% more work. Further, the trash collectors wants to limit the amount of trash they can collect, and are complaining that there’s just so much more trash these days. Trash collector Mr Berra Ramhquist, 27 years on the job, tells Dagens Nyheter that the increase since he started is just immense.

If a wildcat strike indeed starts, one can just imagine how quickly we all will be part of an involuntary trash collecting project Mattias Hagberg style! To be continued.

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