Tag Archives: unemployment

And the butchery begins!

More and more, as the crisis deepens, I get the feeling that this country is showing two extreme faces. On one hand I see solidarity, people reconsidering their exaggerated lifestyles, reason substituting madness. On the other hand I see an extreme version of individualism, desparate people having lost hope for change, trying to save their own asses.

People simply want to have a job, everything else can be fixed. They’ll do anything for a job. The employers know this and they’ll offer almost nothing in exchange for labour. Karl Marx at his best.

I was having a drink a couple of nights ago with a friend and she was telling me about this woman who was desperate for work. She was living in Agrinio, a city in Western Greece where unemployment is high and young people are escaping elsewhere in Greece or abroad. The woman ended up accepting to work for a butcher’s shop but only during the holidays. The salary was 20 euros for 17 hrs of work. An insider told my friend that the butcher’s turnover was 25.000 euros.

butchery02

Some months ago there was an uproar when a hotelier in the island of Aegina posted an ad asking for an employee to work at his hotel voluntarily (!!!). In exchange he was offering accomodation and food. That’s how far (and low) we have gone as a country.

People are so desperate that there are some who indeed accept (or could even beg for) such working conditions. “It’s better than nothing” they’ll say and I can’t really blame them, it’s not their fault. But I can’t either turn a blind eye to a country becoming more and more like a cannibalist society somewhere deep in the virgin rainforests of Papua New Guinea. It now seems that the need of work is driven more and more by our instict of self-preservation.

I’m going to get that job. It’s either me or you. Like the guy in The Axe of Costa Gavras. I’m going to eat you, as wild animals do in the jungle.

Writing these things, a weird quote comes to my mind. I was watching the trailer of the upcoming 2nd season of the “House of Cards”. At the end of it, a cynical Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) says:

For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain, there can be no mercy… and the butchery begins.

butcher

Oh yes… and Happy New Year!

Greece 2012

The things that are happening are starting to be too many. They can overwhelm you. We are living in a kind of post-apocalyptic situation where everything is collapsing. Incomes, values, morality… A society that is suffocating. Here’s how I saw Greece today, 12 October 2012, through some headlines.

Graffiti by Sidron – NDA Crew, photo by Kostas Kallergis

Unemployment has reached 25,1% (official stats for July 2012). Among young people the number is 54,2%. Yes, 1 out of 2 young Greeks is looking for a job. Needless to say that among those who are working, there is a percentage who doesn’t get paid. Employers owe more and more salaries to their employees because of cash shortages. But these are just percentages, misery turned to statistics. You only need to sit down and think that, practically, around 1.000 Greeks are losing their job every day. One thousand people. Every day.

The government is about to announce another round of harsh austerity measures. Lots of cuts and more taxes. How much more can you tax a country? How are they going to pay? Where on earth did economic growth come thanks to more and more taxes? The country gave what it had to give, now it’s time for the officials to see that their predictions for more state revenues through taxes are superficial. Some days ago, one of the biggest dairy firms in Greece (FAGE) announced that it is moving part of its operations, for accounting purposes of course, to Luxembourg. Some days later another one among the biggest Greek companies (Coca-Cola) made a similar announcement sending shockwaves to the markets.

On another weird story, the Minister of Maritime Affairs spoke to an audience at the Maritime Club of Piraeus. He told people there that the troika had this idea. To evacuate all the islands which are inhabited by less than 150 people in order to cut down on public expenses (coz they still need schools, doctors, local administration and subsidised transport connection to the mainland). Of course, it was not an official request from the troika but probably a lower level official making a joke. But the Minister, like any random amateur, said this in public. And the Minister of Finance, who in theory carries out the day-to-day negotiations with the troika, suddenly became something like a troika spokesman, denying here and there that such a request was made. And these people are serious. Our Ministers. Seriously!

This is the situation in which we live for the past two and a half months. Since August the government is spending all its energy carrying out some hidden negotiations with the troika, deciding how they are going to cut 11,5 billion euros from the state budget. One day the Greek government says “this is how we’ll do it” and the other day the troika says “you can’t raise so much money out of it-just fire 10.000 public sector employees’. Government officials, and the Finance Minister Mr Stournaras himself, have informed a number of EU, ECB and IMF officials about what the measures are going to be. But the Greek public… noooo… of course we are not mature enough yet to know. We will be the last ones to find out how much we will be called to pay, how much more tax we should give. Which other nation has been so patient to await for 2,5 months to see how its government, its supposed guardian of its interests, is going to kick  our ass?

And on the top of that, a bunch of Golden Dawn far-rightists, accompanied by two of their MPs and a mob of Christian fanatics, have attempted to block the premiere of a theatrical play. A journalist reported that he got beaten by them-here’s his story made by uniting some of his tweets after his ordeal:

“At the entrance of the theatre, there were Golden Dawn and priests tearing down the show posters and stepping on them.  I took out my mobile to take pictures for the blog. 5 Golden Dawners and a cop surrounded me. They ask ‘Are you a journalist?’ I say “I write for lifo”, hoping to escape a beating. Quite the opposite. They pull me aside, call me ‘faggot’ and ‘queer’, pull my beard, spit in my face, hit me in the stomach.  Cops nearby. I shout “They’re beating me, do something?” Reply : I’ve nothing, move along please. The cop’s wearing 3 stars. They put a lit cigarette in my pocket. A woman standing near warns me, in front of the cop. He pretends he hasn’t heard.  I start to get scared, move away from the entrance. They shout after me ‘Go away, you dirty faggot, go suck someone’s cock!’ I turn back to observe. A known Golden Dawn MP follows me, punches me twice in the face, knocks me down. Downed, I lose my glasses. The Golden Dawn MP kicks me. The police are exactly 2 steps away. Their backs are turned. Repeatedly, I shout to the cop “THEY”RE PUNCHING ME, DO SOMETHING!” Back still turned, he walks away. The rest of them shouting at me next to the police officer “Cry, you pussy, queen, little girl” We pass dozens of cops hanging out. I tell them I was beaten at theatre entrance. They ignore me. One blows me a sarcastic kiss.”

The police detained some Christian fanatics during the events. A bit later, one of their MPs, Christos Pappas, approaches a riot police bus and easily drags one of the detainees there. He set him free seconds later, with the policemen staring at him in awe, as if it was the Police Chief. Look for yourself how easy it was (most of the anti-fascist protesters who were arrested last week and were allegedly tortured inside the Police HQ in Athens are probably jealous of how easy it was for Mr Pappas to do this). Christos Pappas is with the blue suit and the tie.

Yes, my friend, this CAN happen in Greece today, as we become a less democratic state, every second day.

Cirque de Grèce

Saw this today and thought that it’s funny. These are two very important reasons why I decided to post it here.

Unemployment (by Absent)

It’s inspired by a poster of “Alegria” (a show by Cirque du Soleil) which has filled Athens’ ad spaces these days. The guy is our Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras and the word is “Anergia” which means Unemployment in Greek.

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The Greek financial crisis as an opportunity

While more and more people get unemployed every day in Greece, while another suicide of a desparate indebted man is joining the statistics, while democracy is being undone by tons of tear gas, some people see the financial crisis as an opportunity.

Rich Greeks who got their euros in Swiss banks and are now betting on the return to the drachma see it as an opportunity. Foreign companies who, after the voting of Memorandum No2, will be able to employ young Greeks for as low as 450 euros per month for a full time job see it as an opportunity. And some advertisers who exhausted their creativity into some happy footage from Greece, accompanied by Liverpool’s legendary anthem, saw the financial crisis (and the accompanied social misery not visible in the video) as an opportunity.  Here’s the result.

The campaign’s website by Johnnie Walker is here.

This is Memorandum No2

These are the basic decisions that have been agreed in the so-called Memorandum No2.

TAXES AND SPENDING

• Greek leaders have agreed to spending cuts worth 1.5pc of gross domestic product (GDP) this year, or €3.3bn (£2.77bn). By Thursday morning, savings had been agreed to cover all but €300m of that amount.

• The cuts include €400m from public investment, €300m from the defence budget and €300m from pensions.

• In June, whichever government is in charge following expected elections will have to specify additional austerity measures worth €10bn for 2013-2015.

• Greece will be given an extra year, until the end of 2015, to meet a primary surplus target (excluding interest payments).

Bank recapitalisations

• Banks with major problems will be recapitalised with common voting shares while those with lesser problems will be recapitalised with bonds convertible into shares with restricted voting rights.

Labour reform

• The minimum wage will be cut by 22pc. However, this will not drag down the entire wage scale, applying only to new hires. New entrants into the labour market, i.e. those getting their first job, will receive a sub-minimum wage 30pc below the current minimum wage, which now stands at about €750 (this is around 590 euros after tax). Those under 25 will be affected the most.

• About 15,000 state workers will be placed in a “labour reserve”, meaning they will be placed on partial pay and dismissed after a year.

• The government aims to cut the state sector workforce by about 150,000 people by 2015.

Source: Reuters

Greek news portal Capital.gr has a link for the full draft text here. (some pages are missing – no explanation why).

UPDATE: Here’s a more complete version from Greek web news portal in.gr

A possible explanation for the missing page 20 (one of the missing pages from Capital.gr is a handwritten note saying “Goodbye debt, Goodmorning poverty”. It’s still unknown who’s notes these were.

Sirens call Greeks into porn industry

A Siren (in Greek Sirina written Σειρήνα) is a dangerous mermaid-like creature, portrayed as a seductress who, in mythology, lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island.

Here’s one of those small news items that gives you an idea of how the crisis is making our society shipwrecking on the rocky coast of the troika’s island. Yesterday’s Eleftheros Tipos newspaper published a story according to which there is an increase of people applying for a job with Greek porn industry leader Sirina Productions (owned by Dimitris Sirinakis).

The logo of Sirina Entertainment

During the past year, around 2.500 CVs have been sent to the company by candidates who wish to participate in their movies, due to the crisis. They are people who have been unemployed for a long period of time and among them one can find public servants, students and even people who have created their own families.

According to the company, most of the applicants explain in the application form that the reason they applied for the job is their great need for cash. A representative for Sirina Productions told Eleftheros Typos that about 80%-90% of the applicants are now Greek while, before 2010, the majority were foreigners.

"2.500 CVs in order to become porn stars" says the title at the bottom-left box (Eleftheros Tipos 11/12/2011)

For those interested, the newspaper went as far as to give its readers an idea of how much money a porn star with Sirina Productions could earn. Salaries begin from 1.000 euros per scene and can reach 3.000-4.000 euros if the protagonist is a well-known person. The producers also explained that they usually conduct an oral interview with the candidates and they later check their anatomical characteristics. If the applicant passes these two steps they proceed to medical exams in order to verify that they are absolutely healthy.

Two more tragedies joined the statistics

Last Monday, a young man from the north-western Greek city of Ptolemaida committed suicide. He was 37 years old and was facing serious economic problems. He constructed a makeshift gallows at home and hung himself. Seconds before he sent an SMS to the wife of his brother who arrived at his apartment and saw him dead. A note was found next to him where he explained that he took that decision because he couldn’t take it any more being chased by the banks for his debts.

Two days earlier, on Saturday night another man in the nearby town of Proastio Eordeas committed suicide for similar reasons. He was 58 years old and was found hanged inside his home’s garage by his daughter.

The Police hasn’t found any clues that would connect the deaths to an assassination or accident.

They are the two last additions to a long list of suicides which have taken place in Greece due to the economic crisis. Even though we are discussing the consequences of a capitalist phenomenon, I will paraphrase Stalin’s famous quote and say “When two men die it is a tragedy, when thousands die it’s statistics”.

According to Kostas Lolis, Director of Sismanoglion Hospital’s Psychiatric Clinic, in 2009 there has been about 1 suicide per day in Greece. In 2010 this number was doubled. This is generally attributed to the economic crisis as media reports often mention suicides of either businessmen who went bankrupt or people who were unemployed for a long period of time. The island of Crete has a special mention in this (although there is no explanation as to why the number is higher there). Additionally, the number of people who called the “1018” emergency number to seek advise on the issue, has also been doubled in 2010. The study of Mr. Lolis can be found here (in Greek.