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Dissension and questionable interests in the ranks of the kiosk owners

12 February 2011 / 16:02:56  GRReporter
4763 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

 

Street kiosks in Greece are very colorful and useful sites. There you can buy anything from water, soft drink or beer, newspaper, cigarettes and chewing gum to the most amazing things such as aspirin, light bulbs or souvenirs and books.

Some of them are small and a bit worn out, while others resemble small shops, they have music and sound system and are open around the clock.

Dimitris Kefalis is young, but he has been working in pavilions for 15 years. I met him in front of his kiosk, for which he pays rent. Dimitris works for 9-10 hours a day. During the remaining hours in the pavilion, which is not around the clock there works an employee.

Dimitris sells many different things, but stresses that "for the majority of the kiosks over 80 per cent of the turnover is provided by the sale of cigarettes. If the daily profit is EUR 100, 70-80 of them are from cigarettes. 10 percent is from the press, another 10% is the turnover coming from the vouchers for mobile phones and phone cards and 10 percent other things".

I asked Dimitris whether he intends to participate in the strike, which is likely to be announced by the owners of kiosks that sell tobacco products.

Dimitris explained to me that this is actually the federation of owners of kiosks in central Greece. There, however, does not participate the union of their colleagues from Athens.

"Their decision is correct. The problem lies in the fact that in this Federation are only involved the owners of kiosks from the province. If, however, Athens does not do something, the strike will have no effect, because 50-60% of the kiosks, pavilions and small shops for small items are located in the capital".

According to Dimitris the situation in Athenian professional association is "a bit strange". Here's what he said about the modus operandi of the former management of the trade union.

"The mandate of the Board of directors ended in March 2010. In June they managed to get a temporary extension of this period from the court, which expired in December. They were given it so as to hold elections, but none of that happened. On the contrary, before the extension expired a new application was filed in court with the same request. A little later were filed three other petitions and now we are waiting for the decision which will determine which government will hold elections for a new board of directors.

I do not blame the organization for any of its actions. I blame it for not doing anything".

Dimitris, as well as many other colleagues of his believe that union in Athens does nothing to protect the interests of its members.

"In November 2009 they had planned a two-day boycott, within which we were going to stop the sale of vouchers and phone cards in kiosks. This would have take place within two days. They had promised that throughout December we wouldn’t sell vouchers and phone cards so as to induce operators to increase the percentage of our profit, that is humiliating. We sell a voucher of 10 euro with a profit of 0.33 cents. Since then until January 18th this year, although they didn’t have all the powers they exercised the management in its integrity. Throughout this whole time they didn’t even open their mouths about the issue of the vouchers and phone cards. To our incessant questions about what happens with this they replied that the problem with cigarettes occurred".

According to Dimitris this was simply an attempt to avoid taking responsibility, because the problem of smoking has occurred in mid-January last year, "so in December there was no way for them to know about it beforehand. I can not know why they did not honor their word, but afte ther two-day boycott one of the companies that provide equipment for automatic issuing of vouchers raised the rate of profit of the pavilions and it is currently over 4 per cent".

Dimitris blames the leadership of the Athenian union that not only it did not participate in the Panhellenic strike organized by the Federation of the owners of kiosks in central Greece but it also issued and distributed a misleading message that it will not take place. "They were trying to prevent any other union from holding a protest through witch to ask for the minimum. And it is namely that it is not possible that we only have a profit of only 3.2 or 4.2 per cent for a pack of cigarettes.

Until a month ago we were selling a box of Marlboro cigarettes, for 3.80 euros, and our profit was about 0.12 cents. In December 2009, we sold the same pack of cigarettes for 3.20 euros and earned about .26 cents. And although the sales price increased by 0.60 cents our profit fell to the half of the profit we had with the old price of cigarettes. This is a huge loss.

The entire burden of the rise falls on us. The warehouses remained at the same rate of return of 2.9 percent and the tobacco industry suffered a small loss. In 2009, 200 boxes of cigarettes were sold for the price of € 3.20 per unit and we received € 640, out of which we earned about 50 euros. In 2010, for the same number of boxes our profit was about 24 euros, but we received from customers 760 euros. What I mean is that despite the increase in turnover of about 120 euro our profit fell by over 50 percent.

This fact, together with the increase in taxes, social insurance payments and current cost led the kiosks to a severe financial situation. Some kiosks barely survive, and some have already went bankrupt. If by 2009, about 5-10 percent of the kiosks in Greece for one reason or another didn’t have a great perspective to survive, this rate after the changes in the tax system grew to over 50 percent".

Tags: economy society kiosk owners questionable interests
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