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A restaurant in Thessaloniki closed down under the pressure created by the unionists

23 May 2010 / 16:05:11  GRReporter
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Sidewalks on the corner of Pavlos Melas str. and Stratigou Kalari Street in Thessaloniki were empty yesterday afternoon. On the large windows of the restaurant Banquet were to be seen hung two large posters written by employees that provided: "Those who support the workers managed to leave them on the street" and "21 employees condemn the illicit actions that left us without work".

At the same time the Workers' Center of Thessaloniki, representatives of the Federation of Food and tourist companies in Thessaloniki, Halkidiki and Pieria accused once again the owners of the same restaurant, who only few days ago had 29 employees of illegal activities and its spontaneous closure.

The cafe-restaurant closed last Saturday, the case came to parliament and for three weeks it engaged the attention of the worker’s center, of trade unionists, blogs, and hundreds of citizens and news sites. The case began after a 26-year-old man who worked as an assistant waiter in the restaurant complained that he was fired because he filed a complaint to the Labour Inspectorate asking employers to pay his allowance for the holidays and claiming that they delayed the payment of his wages, reported newspaper „Kathimerini”.

The restaurant owners say that they were wrong for not hiring him according to the regulations of employment and claim that thay hired him as they saw that he needed money. Unions stand behind the 26-years-old man and in his support on 23 April, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in front of the restaurant asking that he is taken back to work. Under the pressure from protesters, the owner re-signed a contract with the assistant waiter. But few days later he was dismissed, "because he does not cooperate and does not comply with the programmed schedule of the restaurant. "

Since then, every day a group of 30-50 people who support the fired boy, stand in front of the restaurant with posters and loudspeakers chanting in the hours during which the restaurant has been open. People who live around began with complaints, people passing on the street revolt, customers disappear, and the employees urge for the intervention of the Workers' Center in Thessaloniki.

Workers are divided into two groups - seven of them file complaints to the Labour Inspectorate for violations of the employer in connection with extra-hours worked and the night shifts, but they continue to work the other 21 people react against the trade unionists and against the daily catcalling by the protesters in front of the restaurant, supporting their right to work.

"They say, we are traitors because we work," says a waitress in the restaurant. The demonstrations in front of the restaurant continue for three weeks and the tension created leads to the disappearance of customers. The story ends with the closing of the restaurant and the dismissal of the employees as the owners say they can not guarantee the security of clients, employees, and retailers around as well as the neighbors. One of the owners said that these actions of the trade unions are nothing but extortion. "We started the business two years ago and we invested 800,000 euros, which we had planned to repay for two years, but we can not work in these conditions ... How should we react? This is an absurd in its glory!

"This is blackmail by the employer, who promised in writing to implement the labor law, broke his promise and closed the restaurant," said 26-years-old assistant waiter. Two of the women who worked in the restaurant, but now are unemployed also made their statements. A foreigner who was washing dishes said that " I have been living in Greece for ten years and the last two years I felt safe" and Dina Boyadzoglou said, "we also were left without a job now, while my bills are running as well as the charges for children and repayment of loans..."

Picture: Palladion

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