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Mexico City Workers End Strike

May 29, 2002

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MEXICO CITY (AP) _ About 100,000 city employees started returning to work Wednesday after a 24-hour strike left tons of trash piled up around the capital and street repair crews and prisons with skeleton staffs.

Union and city officials were still negotiating on several contract disputes, but the talks had progressed enough to convince workers to resume their jobs, according to a joint news release from both sides.

The garbage collectors’ return was the most eagerly anticipated. Mexico City’s 8.6 million people generate about 13,000 tons of trash each day _ about 3 pounds per person.

Hauling it away usually requires about 16,000 workers, only 1,500 of whom showed up for work Tuesday. A few neighborhoods organized cleanup crews, but most areas suffered the stench and unsightly appearance of garbage piled in the streets.

Among the city workers’ demands are $430 per year to buy work clothing, and the reinstatement of three workers released from the Department of Health.

They also want the city to allow them to continue the practice of putting excess money from government cash registers _ cashier’s errors or unreturned change _ into a kitty to be shared among city employees.

City officials said the three workers were not doing their jobs as required, and that an investigation found that in 1999 the uniforms workers bought with clothing allowances ended up being resold in street markets.

As for the surplus money, ``it was nothing more than change that employees didn’t give back to clients and that they then shared,″ said administration deputy secretary Alejandro Encinas.

In exchange for resuming city services, Mexico City officials agreed not to take any disciplinary action against the striking workers.

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