In the year 2016, labor exploitation in Greece tends to become a synonym to the name of the country. Almost every day, I deal with the experiences of people who are unemployed, or work without being paid. Taking advantage of the crisis, the employers do not pay up the salaries on a monthly basis and the employees on their turn, being afraid of unemployment, tolerate the situation without complaining.
In addition to this, many of them have to work without being insured in order to have an income.
Last Saturday I found myself in the company of young people between 25-33 years old and as it could be expected, our discussion had to do with unemployment and the situation prevailing in Greece.
Twenty nine-year-old Konstantinos used to work for a large supermarket chain store for five years and got fired a month ago. The justification was that the store was not doing well and the chief executives had to proceed in massive stuff dismissals. At once he started looking for a new job and the only one he could find was in a toy store, where, as they informed him, apart from working six hours for 300€ as a seller, he would also have to undertake the task...of the cleaner.
"I said no, not because I would have to clean up, but because the sum was too small and I would have to spent half of it at transportation." He says, clarifying however that if he doesn't find anything else, he will think of this suggestion seriously.
However, the story that was the most shocking to me was that of 25-year-old Spiros, who has been working at a gas station for the last months. Spiros himself is satisfied by his work, as he receives his salary every month (unfortunately in Greece, what should be taken for granted- the employee's salary- has turned into being the object of begging). When I heard that, I instinctively said "so, you are lucky", until he told me about the tactic that his boss follows in order not to pay compensation in case that he decides to dismiss an employee: "At the end of each month, the owner of the gas station dismisses me and hires me again. On this way I won't be able to receive compensation if I am ever fired because the one year of the insurance contract will not be complete. However I can assure, that the working conditions there are much better than they were at my former jobs, where I was paid every three or four months, and this was achieved only after begging a lot."
I also heard other stories, more or less scary. But they all had something in common: the sense of desperation and lack of hope.
I noticed that I was surrounded by people who were at their most productive age, and who had no dreams for their future at all, not because they had chosen that, but because some people decided so for them, without them. Their only concern was to be able to find a job in order to satisfy their basic needs. Thinking that the situation in Greece is constantly getting worse, resulting in the rise of such cases I felt desperate. It's not easy for me to describe my feelings to somebody who does not experience this- I would say violent- situation.
I cannot explain how it is to be 25, 28, 30 years old and not to have any prospects of professional development, how it is to beg for your salary, how it is to tolerate the exhausting working hours and the humiliating behavior of your boss and all these because you have no alternative.
Those who are older might say that I am undue and pessimistic, but if they could see the chaos and the sadness in the eyes of these people, they would change their mind.