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Greek trash collectors back to work after 2-week protest

A man holds an ice cream as he makes his way past a pile of garbage in Athens, on Thursday, June 29, 2017. A strike by garbage collectors, which has lasted nearly two weeks, has left towering mounds of garbage on city streets at a time when the summer's first heatwave sent temperatures soaring. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek municipal garbage collectors on Thursday decided to return to work after nearly two weeks of protests that left mounds of uncollected refuse in the streets amid a heatwave.

The municipal workers’ union, which wants employees on fixed-time contracts to be granted full-time jobs, said rubbish collection trucks would hit the streets beginning at midnight Thursday.

The decision came two days after unionists rejected a compromise proposed by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that would see workers’ contracts renewed for several months until full-time hirings are arranged.

The leftist government had initially pledged permanent jobs for long-term contract workers, but it faced tight budget obligations under Greece’s international bailout agreements.

Earlier Thursday, about 1,000 garbage collectors marched peacefully through central Athens.

Although not technically on strike, municipal workers had been blockading garages where municipal trash collection trucks operate from, as well as landfill sites across the country.

Greek authorities had warned that the strike was endangering public health and causing problems during the country’s main tourist season. A heatwave that began Thursday is predicted to see temperatures reach 42 degrees Celsius (107.6 Fahrenheit) over the weekend.

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