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Low paid work in the water utility of Athens

28 juni, 2013 · Inga kommentarer

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Kostas Filippoulos

They are working for the EYDAP water company in Athens and they have got their wages lowered with 40 per cent. They have to borrow money from each other and from relatives to make a descent living. If you ask the employees what they think about the future, the answer is: We do not dare to think about it, but the sun is anyhow shining.

Kostas Fillippopoulos is checking a filter in a pump at the Galtisi water utility in the outskirts of Athens. It is almost 30 degrees and sunny. He describes how the government has lowered his wage, due to the economic crisis.
While he earlier got around 2000 euro a month his wage is now only 1200 euro, inclusive overtime after 27 years of employment. He has three children to support and he hardly even buys a cup of coffee at a café nowadays. Suddenly his son had an accident and needed special health care. That made it even harder.

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To him or the others here it does not matter whether the currency is drachmer or euro. What matters is to have food on the table every day.
To feed and give the children a descent life is the main thing.

– There are even children in this country who are fading from hunger in the school, Olga Tsimidaki, the press officer says.
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Olga Tsimidaki

She says that the economic crisis has made them like a big family. They help each other. The children need notebooks and pencils in the schools. EYDAP give them some. There is also a doctor for the staff, who can prescribe some medicine.
– We also use to inform each other at Facebook, where you can find some cheap medicine, if there happens so be some, Olga says.
Staffs have been reduced from 5000 to 2485 during the years. The employer thinks it is enough with 2000. When somebody retires nobody replaces him or her.
But the employees do not agree. Manoli Mastorakis, one of them, says that it is already more difficult to repair water leaks with reduced staff.
EYDAP is going to be privatized. That is what the EU-commisson, the IMF and the ECB, the European Central Bank, is demanding. The intention is to reduce the debts of the country. The former managing director Stelios Stavridis has become the head of the fond, which is going to accomplish the privatization program. He is more than willing to sell EYDAP as he is convinced that the state lack the right competence to manage companies.
But the union representative Christos Kiossos says that a privatization means war.
The trade union has gone to court. It questions if the constitution really permits privatization of water companies.
For three days the union occupied the head office of EYDAP and there have been strikes against reduced wages and the privatization program.
Christos Kiossos is of the opinion that the politicians and the former managing director Stavridis have let the people down. In the start they gave signals that there will be no privatization of the water company but then they changed. Christos has been in favour of Greece being a part of EU but now he feels like Greece is treated as a poor relative.
– I am proud but keep my worries to myself. But now I cannot any longer be silent.

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Christos Kiossos

At the head office of OME EYDAP in Athens Vaggelis Dimoudis shows posters with the message: No to privatization. Already nearly 20 000 names have been registered in the campaign of Right to water, managed by the European public federation EPSU. The campaign is a way of getting the EU-commission to implement water as a human right and no liberalisation of water services.
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Vaggelis Dimoudis

Vaggelis Dimoudis, head of the union, regards these demands as important but is most worried about how the members will make ends meet, to have enough money to pay for the things they need.
– There has been many mistakes made by the Greek politicians but the troika, the EU-Commisson, IMF and ECB, does not seem to understand how their austerity politics affects the Greek workers and creates a low quality of life for them, he says.

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