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Madrid trash collectors start bonfires in downtown plaza to protest layoffs

Trash collectors in Madrid have started bonfires and set off firecrackers during a noisy protest in one of the Spanish capital's main squares as they prepare to start an open-ended strike.

Hundreds of street cleaners and garbage collectors who work in the city's public parks converged on the Puerta del Sol plaza late Monday.

They were due to walk off the job at midnight in a strike called by trade unions to contest the planned layoff of more than 1,000 workers.

Madrid's municipal cleaning companies, which have service supply contracts with the city authorities, employ some 6,000 staff.

The labor groups want the city council to intervene and halt the job cuts.