Littered Amsterdam ends garbage collection strike

AMSTERDAM Sat May 15, 2010 9:26pm IST

Two tourists look at a pile of rubbish at the Nieuwmarkt in Amsterdam May 14, 2010. Trash collectors in the major cities in the Netherlands have been strike since Queen's Day, April 30, as they demanded higher wages.  REUTERS/Olaf Kraak

Two tourists look at a pile of rubbish at the Nieuwmarkt in Amsterdam May 14, 2010. Trash collectors in the major cities in the Netherlands have been strike since Queen's Day, April 30, as they demanded higher wages.

Credit: Reuters/Olaf Kraak

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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Amsterdam is hoping to restore its reputation as the "Venice of the North" after it negotiated an end to a long waste collection strike that made it look more like a less picturesque Italian city, waste-plagued Naples.

The deal, which was announced by the city and trade unions on Saturday, means tourists coming to Amsterdam for its postcard-perfect canals and brick-lined streets will no longer encounter the sight and smell of piles of accumulated trash.

"The municipal cleaners will go back to work as soon as possible now that the Association of Dutch Municipalities and the unions have reached an in-principle agreement," the city of Amsterdam said in a statement.

Dutch trash collectors agreed to end their strikes, which also brought waste collection in the city of Utrecht to a standstill, after they were offered a two-year collective agreement with better pay.

While lower-than-usual seasonal temperatures meant the overflowing bins and metre-high mountains of waste damaged Amsterdam's landscape more than sanitation, there were concerns about the strike's impact had they carried on into the summer.

The southern Italian city of Naples has long suffered from a chronic trash collection problem, caused by inadequate facilities and corruption, which peaked in 2008 with mountains of rotting garbage clogging its streets.

(Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis; Editing by Reed Stevenson)

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