MÁLAGA street cleaners and rubbish collectors have reached an agreement with the city hall over working conditions and pay, which is hoped to spell the end of a strike that has now run into 11 days.
Heaps of bin-bags and litter lining the pavements, wheelie-bins overflowing and filthy streets are causing a fire and hygiene hazard, and mayor Francisco de la Torre said if nothing had changed by today (Friday), he would declare Málaga an 'insalubrious area' which would give him the right to call in emergency cleaners.
Normally, strikers cannot be 'replaced' with one-off workers to do their job while they down tools, since this means their picket action has no impact and goes against their right to strike.
After over 10 hours in a meeting which ended in the early hours of this morning, the staff committee for the franchise firm Limasa and Málaga council managed to iron out most of their differences.
De la Torre had announced a red line over workers' demands for low-productivity sanctions being lifted and getting their Christmas hampers, stopped this year to save taxpayers' funds.
The productivity bonus – valued this year at €867 – and the extra pay due for September at €276 will be paid retroactively as long as the court agrees to this by January 31, 2017.
Further aspects of the agreement include weekends off and cover holidays for this and next year, allowing 15 days' break between June and September as long as 24 or 25 extra staff are brought in, and the remaining 21 days' holiday must be taken at other times of the year.
Málaga city council has remained firm over refusing to pay the workers for the days they have been on strike – as it is normal that strikers lose a day's pay for doing so – and they will not get their Christmas hamper unless the court decides in their favour on both aspects by December 15 this year.
If all goes according to plan, normal service should resume on Wednesday afternoon.
Málaga residents have come out in overwhelming support of their mayor, calling for him not to give in to 'blackmail' by Limasa's workers.
De la Torre says residents, tourists and traders have been badly affected and 'made to suffer', and that it has upset them seeing their city in such an appalling state.
Conflicts have broken out on the streets between striking workers and residents, and two people were arrested earlier in the week for setting fire to up to 60 wheelie-bins and piles of litter.