Athens rubbish piles up as Greeks protest contracts

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Athens (AFP)

Mounds of rubbish festered in soaring temperatures in Athens on Thursday as thousands demonstrated in support of refuse collectors demanding the renewal of their contracts.

Authorities said around 5,000 people gathered in central Athens, closing roads to traffic in the latest protest against austerity measures imposed by the country's international creditors.

Protesters descended on Syntagma Square, which has become a crucible for popular discontent over Greece's flailing economy.

Refuse collectors in the capital have not done their rounds in three days due to a contract dispute, with unions suggesting 6,500 workers risk having their terms expire.

With rubbish piling up across the city, Athens municipality urged residents not to take out their waste as temperatures topped 30 Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) by midday (0900 GMT).

Similar protests were held in Greece's second-largest city Thessaloniki and in Heraklion, the capital of Crete.

Waste management in Greece is a recurring source of contention due to a recruitment freeze and many workers being offered only temporary contracts.

In Athens, refuse workers are calling for a new dump as the only current disposal site is deemed to be overfilled and a public health risk.