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Garbage Collectors in Armenia’s Resort Town of Sevan on Strike: Hraparak

The garbage collectors in the town of Sevan have not been coming to work for 2 days. About two dozen workers have been gathering at the utilities department of city hall, asking for their wages overdue from last year, which comprise about 1 million 700 thousand AMD (about $4,170 USD), and to raise their current meager salaries, reports local daily Hraparak

The first day, the striking workers went to department head Meruzhan Tovmasyan. "We get 70,000 drams [monthly salary, about $170]," one of them complained. "We can't support a family with that. I say, raise the salary; the department head raises his head and says, 'Here's your salary.' Is that the way a manager should behave, is that something a manager should say?"

The workers also complain about their work conditions. They say they don't receive any uniforms, and they are choked with the stench of the garbage when emptying the bins. "At 5 in the morning, when the bosses are still sleeping, we get up, empty the bins, so that people wake up to a clean city, but what's one glove that it's such a pity for them to give [to us]?" one of the garbage collectors told the paper.

Sevan mayor Rudik Ghukasyan was aware of the labor strike, but asked by the newspaper correspondent why the municipality doesn't raise their wages, he said: "I too ask for my salary to be raised, but there has to be the possibility."

Asked if he remembers when he was elected mayor and he said the city is dirty and waste disposal needs some improvement, whether he is now content, Ghukasyan said yes, he is content. "It's just this one day that they're not working. For their salaries. The rest of the time, I'm content."

In response to the question if the garbage collectors don't come to work tomorrow what he will do, the mayor hung up. 

The deputy mayor yesterday met with the striking workers and asked them to return to work, promising the city will gradually pay their overdue wages. However, the garbage collectors refused, concludes the newspaper.