Workers shot in Greece, update

This is a video from Greece about the agricultural workers, mainly from Bangladesh, after they were wounded by a brutal gun attack for asking for their unpaid wages.

The I Can’t Relax in Greece blog writes today:

Around 200 immigrants, most of them from Bangladesh and some from Pakistan, who were working at the fields, demanded from the foremen six months’ unpaid wages owed to them by the company. According to the police, the dispute was intense.

The foremen left, but they returned where the immigrants were gathered after a while holding shotguns.

According to the available information, at least two out of three Greek foremen of the unit open fire with their hunting rifles against the foreign land labourers, injuring [several] of them seriously and another 20 lightly (according to local journalists the victims are as many as 34).

The injured were taken to the Health Centre of Varda and to regional hospitals, where the doctors described the situation as a war-like one with new victims arriving again and again.

The local Mayor of Andravida-Kyllini, Dimitris Arvanitis attempted to dispel the impressions by saying, while talking on VIMA 99.5 [radio station] and to Mega [TV station] on Thursday morning, that there is only one businessman that acts in this way. He also pointed out that the particular businessman is not even from the region, but from Athens, and that he is based at Lappa, Achaia, that is outside the borders of the municipality of Andravida-Kyllini.

This view was countered, also on VIMA 99.5, by the President of Amaliada’s Labour Centre, Natassa Panagiotara. Both in Old and New Manolada there are big strawberry field owners exploiting immigrants; the particular employer is not the only one doing business this way, she said.

Nobody ever checks the conditions under which the immigrants there work or live, Ms Panagiotara noted and she described the situation as a “labour slave market”. “We are asking for inspections but these never take place because – as we are told by the Labour Inspection – there is a lack of personnel”, Ms Panagiotara noted. She added that nobody can know what exactly is happening in these businesses, since access is not allowed. …

The incident happened just a few days after the report of the Commissioner [of Human Rights], Muižnieks, demanding immediate measures against racism in Greece. …

The situation remained unsettled till late in the evening in Nea Manolada, after the unprecedented attack with hunting rifles against foreign workers by foremen in an agricultural business. According to the available information, 200-250 individuals, mainly from Banglandesh, had gathered at the village’s square and the climate was tense. They were demanding justice and asking for the arrest of the perpetrators of the bloody attack.

Strawberries and blood in Ileia

Nightmares from the past were awakened by the new bloody incident in Nea Manolada, Ileia, where the biggest strawberry plantation units are located and that have been characterised as “strawberries of shame”.

In April 2008, the immigrant workers in Nea Manolada went on strike. During their protest the plantation owners organised a counter-demonstration and attacked the immigrants with wooden clubs and shotguns. Four workers ended up in the hospital then.

In May 2012 there was another incident. The immigrant workers had gathered at the village’s square vigorously demanding their unpaid wages. Violent clashes erupted between the owners and the workers, while in 2012 some locals were dragging with a car an Egyptian worker whose body was hanging as he was caught at the car’s door. Later they threw the man unconscious and full of blood on the street.

See also here. And here. And here. And here.

From AFP news agency:

Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said the attack was “inhuman” and “outside Greek morality” and pledged an immediate response by the authorities.

But the Communist-affiliated PAME union noted that the incident was only the latest in a long history of abuse of migrant workers in Greece.

PAME said the workers had been fired upon with shotguns and pistols. It claimed 33 were hurt, while the police said 27 were wounded, one of them critically.

“Growers and landowners have operated with cover from the government and justice for years, creating a hell-hole with slavery labour conditions,” the union said.

“Modern slaves in Manolada work in stifling conditions, pay rent to their exploiters and are lodged in sheds without water and electricity, piled upon each other,” it said.

Natassa Panagiotara, head of the labour centre in the neighbouring town of Amaliada, spoke of “19th century-style plantations” operating in this manner for over a decade.

“The Greek state knows what is going on…but there are only two labour inspectors in the area,” she told Skai radio.

A local labourer who also spoke to the station said workers had been promised 22 euros ($29) for seven-hour shifts.

He said workers “bathed in a barrel and drank from a water hose” and were afraid of “being killed or having their hut set on fire” if they pressed their claims for pay.

Calls for a boycott on Manolada strawberries rapidly spread online, but Panagiotara warned against indiscriminate action.

“There are family growers in the area who run their own farms without migrant labour and are just as hungry as other Greeks,” she said.

In 2008, Manolada was the focal point of a rare strike by hundreds of migrant workers against near-slavery conditions in the fields.

The treatment of migrants in Greece has long been criticised by domestic and international rights groups, to little avail.

Greece and Germany: who is in debt to whom? Here.

Former Greek defence minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos appeared in court today for the start of a long-delayed corruption trial: here.

7 thoughts on “Workers shot in Greece, update

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