”The City Council has to bang its fist on the table and say ‘enough is enough’! The people of Salt are in the middle of the shit, speaking clearly, ”says Tina, a retiree from Barri Vell. Like her, many other residents of this Girona municipality of 32,000 inhabitants think that they have suffered for three weeks an indefinite strike of the thirty employees of the concessionaire company of the garbage collection service —Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas (FCC) Medio Ambiente— . To deal with the mountains of waste that accumulate in containers and sidewalks, a part of the population, including businesses, has been saving plastic, glass and cardboard in houses and patios. Other residents have taken advantage of their trips to work in other neighboring towns such as Girona or Vilablareix to load the remains into their vehicles and deposit them there. Despite the insistence of the strike committee, at the moment neither a new negotiation meeting nor an agreement is planned.
”It is the City Council that must do something, we cannot do anything, only complain. What we have already done has been paying the bill”, indicates Joan, Tina’s husband, who regrets that “it seems that the Consistory is taking it a little lightly because all the streets are dirty, not only because of bags of garbage, wherever you go is full of leaves, plastic, bottles”. He clarifies, however, what is also pointed out by some of the neighborhood associations: “Before this strike it was already dirty. It doesn’t clean as it should. But the fault lies with the people, who are dirty”, he assures. Other neighbors think the same: “There are people with very little education and very uncivil.” Mattresses, toilets, refrigerators, cabinets and other items thrown on the street are proof of this.
The workers and the company do not have an upcoming meeting planned
They share blame equally. “I suppose that, to save money, the staff is short, but if the company does not have it clean enough, the mayor should improve it,” insists Tina, who sees, in general, a certain “neglect.” “I don’t understand how the neighbors are so appeased and we don’t go out into the street and do what we have to do at once, and not just because of the garbage. People no longer want to come to Salt, and if it’s this disgusting, even less” he complains.
In Salt, one of the poorest cities in Catalonia, with a 39% immigrant population and an evident underground economy, the neighborhoods are not affected equally. It depends on its population density. One of the worst is the Center, where more than 11,000 people live in just three streets, more than a third of the total census. In these streets the accumulation of waste and pestilence are permanent.
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There are many neighbors who, aware of the unhealthy situation, these weeks of strike have been keeping non-organic waste at home. Those who have not taken them to neighboring cities have taken advantage of this week’s afternoons to dispose of the waste, when operators with FCC trucks from other cities such as Badalona have gone to Salt to empty the container islands amid a large deployment of the Mossos and the local police.
Ling Long, from El Corte Oriental bazaar, keeps industrial bags full of plastic in a small warehouse waiting to get rid of them, as he did with cardboard after a fortnight. They were also storing kilos of packing boxes in the Carrer Major bazaar. “We accumulated so much that we had to load it and take it to another place. Outside of Salt,” explains Zengxia. Some neighbors say that on Wednesday, when they saw that two trucks were passing by the containers in the afternoon, they went out to throw away what they had at home. The parish priest of the Sant Jaume parish, Fèlix Mussoll, did the same.
“People no longer want to come to Salt, and if it is disgusting, even less”
Albert, owner of the L’Antull Restaurant, acknowledges that he has been lucky because “being close to the Health Center they collect the containers every day”. However, since the bin in front of his business is not emptied, he does. “The debris that falls dirty and gives a very bad image, that’s why I empty it every day,” he says. Some residents of the Barri Vell also go out with their brooms to collect the leaves that accumulate in front of their houses. Again they will remain stored for a few days in their patios.
This Thursday afternoon a meeting of the five neighborhood associations was scheduled in the parish premises to analyze the decisions to be made. A person in charge advances: “We are not going to charge inks against anyone, but we want solutions”. Some of the associations claimed for years that “the town is not clean.”
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