Monthly Archives: December 2011

Mr. Freeman wishes you…

On the dysfunctional year that ends today

I woke up and started reading a couple of blogs with my morning coffee. The majority of them reminded me that this is the last day of the year. I thought of translating two small abstracts to give you an idea of how this otherwise joyous day is experienced in Greece. Yes, there’s plenty of pessimism in them.

"Disfunction" by Susana Blasco

Author and veteran blogger Nikos Dimou wrote:

I was asked to give a label on 2011. I spontaneously answered “A year lost”. Then I remembered 2010 and I added “one more”.

Greece’s most read blogger, Pitsirikos, wrote:

The year 2011 was a beautiful and “useful year”. It was the year that the Greek society had a mirror turned towards itself and was told “That’s who you are!”.

Off I go now to have my second cup of coffee in downtown Athens with one of my best friends. He was laid off three days ago.

Jesus Christ! Here comes the troika!

Jesus Christ! Here comes the troika!

Made by street artist Absent.

Merry crisis

Some photos to “celebrate” the day… This is Christmas 2011 in Greece.

“Naked Christmas” by bleeps.gr (photo by G. Nikolakopoulos)

Season’s Greektings by Greek illustrator Spyros Derveniotis.

Season’s Greektings by Spyros Derveniotis

 Daniel, a British Erasmus student in Athens, sent me this photo – it’s a motto that has been around since the 2008 killing of Alexis Grigoropoulos by a policeman, an assassination that caused a rioting chaos in Athens for more than a month. Daniel took this photo in Panteion University.

Photo by Daniel @ Panteion University

Here’s another photo from the same door (not that it makes more sense, I just found it by chance)

Merry Crisis @ Panteion University

This is a graffiti on the external wall of Athens University’s old building (now mainly used for graduation ceremonies). I think the graffiti has been taken off by now.

Merry crisis @ Athens Kapodistrian University

The motto inspired a stencil artist too. The location is unknown.ste

Merry crisis stencil

If I am not mistaken, this graffiti was on the external wall of the Central Bank of Greece, at Panepistimiou street.

Merry crisis @ the Central Bank of Greece

Here’s a video from the city-sponsored Christmas tree in Syntagma square, back in 2008. Its burning was an unforgettable view. For almost a decade, the city’s mayors were proud of wasting thousands of euros to build “the tallest christmas tree in Europe”. This shallow megalomania that only needed a spark to show the void spirit of our corrupt politicians.

At first, people decorated the tree with garbage bags.

Then the tree was set on fire.

As you can see, that night, riot police used tear gas to disperse the crowd. It was a very moving view.

Finally, here’s a video by Ross Domoney, with a short historical background on the Alexis Grigoropoulos’ assassination and footage from this year’s demo which commemmorated the killing.

Exploring Revolt in Greece from Ross Domoney on Vimeo.

Days of strike (trailer)

Here’s the trailer of a short documentary I produced with my colleague, Yannis Vakrinos. It’s about the strike at Halyvourgia Ellados, one of the biggest strikes in Greece for the past 2 or 3 decades.

Here’s the trailer (subtitles in English are incorporated in YouTube)

The story goes like this: the company asked from its workers to stop working 8hrs per day, 5 days per week, and work instead for a total of 25 hrs per week, accompanied of course with a 40% cut in their salaries. If this was not accepted, the company’s owner said that he would have to fire 180 people, almost half of them. The justification for this was the economic crisis. However, workers said that production was surprisingly going up at around 70% between 2009-2011 and that their factory was so busy last summer that they hardly took any holidays.

The company’s administration has so far layed off 50 people. The workers were notified by a paper stuck on their home’s doors. Yes, they went to work in the morning and when they returned they found the paper there.

The worker’s, and not just them, believe that once this ground-breaking measure passes from their factory, it will spread all over the economy. So they feel as if they are protecting the last barrier which could stop the cuts and the abolition of the “8hrs/5days per week” right. Their struggle moved thousands of Greeks who arrive at the factory every day and bring food, medicines and money to the workers. They know that this strike must last, otherwise they will be the next ones to face the same cuts. As one steel worker said “if my salary is reduced from 800 euros to 500 euros, what would the super-market employee negotiate about? Will he be able to ask for 800? His boss will say that steel workers earn 500 euros and they are working under extreme conditions so his super-market employee should be happy with 400 euros!”.

The video will be hosted by Greek satirical team Ellinofreneia’s website but will not be under copyright restrictions. So, feel free to share it around. Thanks.

Did anybody see my future?

"Did anybody see my future?"

Photo taken from political zoo.

Pangalos’ reception in Berlin

This  is how the vice-president of the Greek government, Theodoros Pangalos, was received in Berlin by local Greek activists (of the Real Democracy movement). The banner stated support for the 400 strikers of Hellenic Halyvourgia steel industry. They’ve been on strike for about two months, one of the biggest labor actions for decades. The strike has been greatly underreported in the Greek media, causing concern and suspicion.