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Help to save their jobs seek the employees of "Help at Home"

30 September 2011 / 18:09:03  GRReporter
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Anastasia balezdrova

 

"When you grow old no one will pay attention to you," shouted at the Ministry of the Interior 150 women working in the Greek communities under the "Help at Home" program. The employees protested against the suspension of the program at the end of the year due to lack of funds. They blocked the traffic on Stadiou Street, allowing only public transport buses and trolleys and tourist buses to pass.

"We help adult and disabled people. We go to them, in their homes, clean, bring them their medications, shop, pay the bills; the social workers give them psychological support. In practice, we are the only persons to open the doors of many houses, where such lonely people live and now, they want to throw us into the street."

Four thousand female workers in Greece take care of one hundred thousand elderly and disabled. "We are working on temporary employment contracts which have been renewed without interruption over the years. All we are employed after passing through the selection procedures of the staff selecting supreme council. Actually, in the last 10 years, we have been working under conditions of employment "hostage" for not knowing whether we will sign a new contract after the previous one expires. We do not want to be "hostages" of any government, but instead, three months before the end of the year, the government has no plan for the future of the program "Help at Home".

The participants in the protest came from different places: the Islend of Corfu, Thessaloniki, Karditsa. Hrisoula Kisarhaki of Crete told about how she and her colleagues take care of the lonely elderly and disabled.

"I work in one of the municipalities in Iraklio. I am a nurse and I am in the program for seven and a half years. We work in very bad conditions, yet always strive to help older people who have very great need of us. Just think that we work in a rural community where most villages are located in a mountainous area. The children of these people are in Iraklio, Athens or even abroad. Older people see us more often than they see their children. They are eagerly waiting for our weekly visit. Sometimes even just to sit down and talk with them, support them, shop for them and bring their medicines.

If the program is terminated at the end of this year, it will mean that they will throw into the street not only us but also the people who had sustained the country for years."

A little later, some of the employees were received in the building of the Ministry to meet someone of the leadership. While the protesters were waiting for their colleagues to tell them the results of the meeting, the Interior Minister Haris Kastanidis suddenly appeared among them. Some of the protesters cheered him, while others were more skeptical. "Together with the Minister of Employment we are working on the provision of national funds for financing the program with the cooperation of municipalities, because it is the most important thing now. I personally will take the initiative to inform you. Then we will discuss the staff issue," said Harris Kastanidis and then returned to the Ministry.

His words did not appease the protesting employees. Some commented that he came to them for the sole purpose to make a positive impression, while others simply found that these are generalities. "In general, it is unclear whether he will be at the ministerial post after some time."

A little later, they held a procession to the Parliament, then headed to the building, which houses the Central Union of Greek Municipalities and held a peaceful protest.

Two days ago, the Ministry of the Interior announced that it has secured the necessary funds for the program to continue in 2011: € 52.9 million from national resources in the public investment program and € 60 million from the Operational Program for the development of labour potential of European means. According to the message, again proverbial Greek bureaucracy has slowed municipalities to put the funds in use, resulting in delayed salaries.

They themselves are not entirely convinced that the funds will actually be used to implement the program and to pay their salaries and require the government to pledge that there will be no redundancies among them.

 

Tags: SocietyProtestHelp at Home programFemale workersElderlyDisabledMunicipalitiesMinister of the InteriorHaris Kastanidis
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