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Chile issues health alert over trash

Thursday - 11/7/2013, 7:33pm  ET

Striking municipal workers struggle with police trying to remove them as they march to La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago, Chile, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. Municipal workers started an indefinite strike in October to demand a pay raise, affecting dozens of municipalities. On Thursday the strike was extended to more municipalities across the country, affecting public serves like trash pick-up, health car centers, public kindergartens, the civil registry and forensic services. (AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo)

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) -- Chile's government is issuing a health alert for the port of Valparaiso, where thousands of tons of trash have been piling up for nearly three weeks amid a strike by garbage collectors.

Health Minister Jaime Manalich said Thursday that the measure seeks to protect residents of Valparaiso from a strike "that carries huge health risks."

The work stoppage began on Oct. 16, and the government began negotiations two weeks later. By that time, the snaking streets and steep hills of Valparaiso had become clogged with trash.

The strike has spread and is now reaching most of Chile's municipalities.

Workers are demanding a wage increase. The government says it can only come to an agreement after the 2014 budget is approved and Nov. 17 presidential elections are held.


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