Immigrant farm workers seeking a rise of three euros a day were attacked and in some cases beaten in Nea Manolada, Greece.
Please read the whole disgusting story at Teacher Dude’s Grill and BBQ
More at the BBC
Technorati: migrant, immigrants, workers rights, greece
This sort of thing has been going on in Greece for decades, so it is at least something that the Greek press now reports it. Still, I doubt that many of the good citizens of Greece give a toss about the immigrant workers…
Re ‘troll’ discussion on Teacher Dude: I think he is being ironic. He is not difficult to trace and nothing in his posts suggest anything else (I had a technical problem posting this comment to Teacher Dude – sorry DD)
I wonder why you report this story in the way you do – i.e. Greek farmers beat up immigrant workers – so that you can invite the comments you do , ‘I doubt that many of the good citizens of Greece give a toss about the immigrant workers’, when, according to yesterday’s article I read in Eleftherotypia – on the same side as you – a much more complex picture emerges.
It said that the trouble started after trade unionists from PAME and KKE activists, who qualify, I imagine, as ‘good citizens of Greece’, went to inform immigrant workers of their rights in this industrial dispute. The Greek activists were then attacked and beaten up by the farmers and their Albanian immigrant allies/cohorts. Later, the newspaper reports, there were more violent incidents against the immigrant workers. What we have then, is Greek farmers and Albanian immigrant workers on one side, and Greek activists and other immigrant workers, mostly Asian from what I could tell, on the other. That doesn’t fit in neatly with your Greeks attack immigrants paradigm, does it?
Moreover, the BBC report says that the workers want more money because of a rise in food prices; which is, of course, a global phenomenon and has to do with biofuel production, drought in Australia and increased prosperity and consumption of wheat and meat in China and India – ironically India, since most of the immigrant workers in this case are from the subcontinent. Again, what we’re seeing is the kind of conflict emerging as a result of globalisation and global warming and to reduce it to Greeks against immigrants, i.e. Greek racism, is banal in the extreme.
Needless to say exploitation and mistreatment of migrant workers – and workers employed by Western companies in the Third World – goes on in every Western country and I don’t think it helps to understand what’s going on by using emotive language – like ‘shameful’ and ‘disgusting’ – and imply that the phenomenon is unique to Greece or that the system of economic relations which allows for the exploitation and mistreatment of workers is a Greek system. We have to set aside our prejudices and be a little more sophisticated, don’t you think?
I think you’re being disingenous; but still I’m glad we agree that the story is not a ‘Greek racism’ story and that, if anything, it is more a ‘class conflict’ story.
john z, I do find it “disgusting” that the immigrant workers are living in shacks and pay almost half their wages for that. I find it disgusting that anyone is beating up anyone. I did not say it was only happening in Greece. I did not say it was Greek racism. I simply posted a link to Teacher Dude’s blog and to the BBC report.
When [often illegal] immigrants workers are found in similar conditions in other European countries, such as the UK or Germany, there is a general public outrage about the modern slavery. That outrage is not class-related, and it is fraudulent to claim that the Greek case is typical of Europe. Apart from the general dislike of immigrant workers in Greece, and a complete lack of interest in their plight by ordinary citizens [trade unionists and KKE are not typical citizens], there is the issue of massive Greek inflation. Again, Greece is not in the same situation as other EU countries, where price increases of basic foodstuffs are more or less under control: the constant inflation faced over the last 5 years is very high. The fact that the government denies this is of no relevance: we all know what it happening. And it has not been happening for the last 5 years across the whole world or the EU. Again, this is a lie.
Trade unionists and communists are not typical citizens? What a bizarre claim! And even more bizarre is the idea that Greece is the only country in Europe where immigrant workers, particularly those in agriculture, are disliked, mistreated and regarded with indifference by the large majority of society. Very, very few people give a monkey’s about the plight of immigrant workers anywhere in Europe and to pretend that Greeks are uniquely indifferent and Greek employers uniquely exploitative is preposterous.
British public opinion outraged by the treatment of immigrant workers???? Since when? British public opinion has been and continues to be viciously hostile and resentful towards immigrants and Britain has always ruthlessly exploited its immigrant workers and continues to do so. The drowning of 21 Chinese slaves picking cockles in Morecambe a couple of years ago being the most obvious example. Britain has a despicable record on racism, social exclusion, violence, brutality, exploitation and bigotry towards its immigrant population. Some of the sons of these immigrant workers despise Britain so much that they are prepared to kill themselves and their fellow citizens by blowing up buses and tube trains. And you have the audacity to suggest that Britain can teach Greece how to treat its immigrant workers and communities.
As for the global increase in food prices; you need to follow the news more closely. There have been riots over food price hikes all over the world – notably in Egypt, Bangladesh, Haiti
and you can’t open a UK paper without reading about huge increases in food prices at supermarkets here. This global phenomenon, according to the BBC report linked to by DD, is what prompted the unrest among the strawberry pickers in Greece.
Immigrants anywhere get a really bad deal and no one in any country or government does anything about it. In the UK for example it’s well known that trafficking for the sex trade is a huge problem. I’m constantly coming across articles about it, each one more upsetting than the last. Immigrants are treated like slaves, for sex, for work, for everything, and no one anywhere cares enough to try and give them some respect. that’s the tragedy of 21st C life.
DD please don’t think I’m trying to belittle the topic you have raised. While immigrants get a raw deal everywhere, it’s Greece we’re living in, and I for one have faith in Greece’s ability to bring about change because it’s a small country with a dynamic population.
bollybuttons last blog post..Dance for your dinner
john z, in my last comment to you, I was pointing out that nowhere in my post did I mention Greek racism. I was not agreeing with you that it isn’t. This is not being disingenuous, this is asking you to read what I actually wrote rather than making it up as you go along to back up your claims against me.
Not giving a damn about immigrant workers rights is racist in the same way as not giving a damn about womens rights is sexist. I am not saying that this only happens in Greece, but there is nothing to be proud of in repeatedly pointing out that Greece is no better than other countries.
It would be more positive and productive to say that Greece does have some serious problems and what can we do about them. Do you seriously want to follow the path of the lowest common denominator, or do you want to find solutions and become a better example of how a country could be ?
bollybutton, I don’t think you are belittling the topic at all. I also have faith in the ability of people to bring about change. However, there has to be an acknowledgment of the problem in the first place. Many people have said now and in the past, that people don’t care about immigrants. I believe that if we don’t care, we can’t change. (That goes for everyone, not just Greek people)
DD. You are right. Britain is ‘the lowest common denominator’; which under no circumstances should Greece try to emulate. Last week, somebody I know from Trinidad was effectively deported from the UK because, although in productive employment, she was deemed by the Home Office to be performing a job – an administrator for a City law firm – that could be performed by someone British. An outrageous injustice and instance of racism – which most people in Britain, contrary to what Martin says, not only don’t care about but think entirely justified.
Greece has had immigration for 15 years and if you compare where Greece is now with Britain after it had 15 years of mass immigration – 1955-1970 – i.e. the period of ‘no blacks, no Irish, no dogs’, of race riots, the Smethwick election (‘If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Liberal or Labour’), Enoch Powell, anti-immigrant legislation, anti-immigrant strikes, the National Front, and so on and so on – then Greece emerges as a beacon of liberalism and tolerance.
Nobody said that Britain is not racist; nor did anybody deny that the immigration rules there are very exclusionary, as shown in your example. The problems with Greece are completely different. The Greek popular reaction to immigrants is often not exactly racist (and certainly not like UK racism) but is exclusionary, i.e. denying access to social status or being able to apply for well-paid jobs. My comment above was that British people were shocked by the terrible conditions that immigrants were found to be in; my impression in Greece is that people were not interested in the conditions for immigrant workers.
I don’t think anyone agrees with your claim that Greece is a beacon of liberalism and tolerance — unless you mean that nothing is organised properly, so no laws are enforced. It is also important to remember that Greece still has a far more exclusionary immigration policy than the UK: almost everyone in Greece came illegally or overstayed tourist or student visas. If you try (as a Greek) to legally employ an immigrant from outside Greece, you will find out what happens. Basically, the costs for the employer are so high, and do not even guarantee getting a particular employee, that nobody will use the system.
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