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How expats experience “three years Greece in the crisis” (Part III)

One more story on Greece in the crisis seen by the eyes of expats. Submitted by Catherine, a British woman who moved in the country twenty years ago and after two decades struggles to get along.

Below the story submitted by Catherine:

“I came to Greece almost 20 years ago from the UK at the time the UK was going through its own recession and as a young student I felt there was no future never the less it didn’t prepare me for the Greek depression. I working in all kinds of jobs and for long hours, a lot unpaid overtime was never on the cards just expected and getting your entitled insurance and health stamp for that matter.

I meet my partner and live got easier with his support and financial assistances my partner is in the building trade self-employed until about 5 years ago when it all dried up; he has worked for over 30 years and contributed to the system but yet he has not received a penny from the government in terms of benefits now our savings have gone on rent super high electric bills and day to day living for the past 3 years we survived solo on my wages.

This has proven hard as I work seasonal and the money just doesn’t stretch with wage cut and petrol prices rising (a car is a most have as public transport is minimum on Crete no night services) in the winter I am entitled to 360 euros a month for 5 months but I am out of work for 6 or 7 months this money covers my rent.

We genuinely can’t afford food and also bills and rent are now in arrears. Last year to put the icing on the cake I lost my job too and I had major discrepancies on payment and ika. There was no reason given the only conclusion I can come too is the fact I annoyed my boss by asking for payment of money owed from the last season in January.

As a side line I have a small service which has little income. I would like to make it legal but under government terms I would be in debt or bankrupt after the first months I tried to join a government program to start this business but the financial support they will pay after 6 to 12 months. (My husband did the same kind of program and 2 years down the line he waits with little hope to get this money).

I like thousands look for work till then the bills are rising and food is not on the table if things don’t turn around I seriously see us on the streets.  So much for contributing for  20 years and 30 years after welcome to Europe’s Greece.”

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  1. I would like to make it legal but under government terms I would be in debt or bankrupt after the first months

    How many times I have heard that in the last couple of years. All those good and solid ideas. But all the rules and regulations are stacked against it… Hope you and your husband find a way to go on, Catherine…

  2. I am so sad for what is happening in Greece…
    How long are we going to let the Troika treat the European Nations like this ???
    We don’t have to suffer all this just to save a dream of an elite !

    Time for action ! Take down your Government ! Leave this bloody Eurozone and the E.U !!
    Get back your sovereignty !!!
    Greece, the inventor of democracy, being the first country to break this undemocratic project, would be such a symbol. I can only pray for that to happen fast… I mean before everyone dies

  3. Hi Catherine, I’m sorry to hear this. Could you go back to England? Couldn’t they help you? Do you have any famiy there that can help? Maybe it’s time to leave Greece. Just a thought but my family has always said, if it gets to where it’s tips over to the other side, I’d be on the first plane to JFK…

  4. Hi KTG,

    This perplexes me. With all the unemployment in Greece and people homeless, hungry etc, how can their be EVEN ONE JOB that Greeks snub their noses at?

    What do you think about business weekly saying many immigrants working and being employed while Greeks too good to do manual labor. As I mentioned in a previous article, if I didn’t have a job and had a family, I’d be out there picking Strawberries with those Bangladeshis for whatever money I could get so my kids could eat.

    This would be a good article for you to ponder if I may suggest as a regular contributor to your esteemed blog.

    • keeptalkinggreece

      i had some discussion recently about exactly this issue. and I’m challenged to write an article about it. thanks.

      • When you say challenged, do you mean it’s difficult to write the article? Or do you mean that others have “challenged” you to write this. I was not clear on your use of the word “challenged” in this context. My apologies for not understanding. 🙂

        • keeptalkinggreece

          the situation has challnged me to write an article on this topic. as there has been lots of discussions among friends etc why Greeks do not do this job. one has to sit down with paper & pen to see the pro & contra.

          • Ok, if you are interested, I would say this from the heart.
            I would DEFINITELY NOT recommend Greeks who have recently been fired/laid off from their jobs under one year to do these jobs as it could possibly hurt their chances of getting a better job. Unless of course they did it secretly and obviously not put it on a resume/CV.

            But, for those who have been unemployed for 2 years or more, or are truly hungry, homeless, destitute, I would say they should sign up right away.

            Now, of course, would these Greek slave owners who work the farms like this want Greek workers? Because as soon as you get a few Greeks working there, you’ll have the KKE, unions and others who are suddenly demanding 2 hour work days, extra-benefits, C-level salaries, etc, and then the cost of strawberries will go up and in the end, the strawberries go out of business. Of course, paying a decent wage and having the basic dignities of a work environment are a must. But providing benefits shouldn’t be mandatory and these workers could be contractors so that way the company is not obligated to pay extra and then of course the prices of strawberries could stay low for us.

            Alright, Ephilant, let me have it! I’m ready for you to give it to me with your lecture on workers rights (LOL)

            But, who knows….

          • keeptalkinggreece

            just posted an article why jobless Greeks do not go strawberry picking

          • @ Homie What can I say? The simple fact that you speak of “workers rights” as if it were some disease, says it all. The only solution for people with your mindset is to put you at the receiving end of your own policies and see how long you’ll last. This has nothing to do with what you obviously perceive as irrational demands for “benefits”. This is about human protection. This is about making sure those who, for whatever reason, are least able to defend themselves have some legal protection against this kind of unscrupulous, immoral exploitative individual and mindset. This is about those least able to defend themselves having their dignity and humanity respected in the same way you would insist on yours being respected. This is also about preventing this mentality becoming the norm so that everybody can be forced into accepting conditions like the ones these, and many others are forced to work in. This “shut up and accept what is offered” mentality you are promoting beggars belief in this day and age.

          • keeptalkinggreece


          • KTG, no problem here. I asked Ephilant to respond and I do enjoy reading his comments. I may not agree hardly ever with him, but dialog is never a bad thing.

            But, I would say that I have worked in the fields as I mentioned in another post (years ago in Greece) and found it actually really fun. Now, I will admit, I was younger and also did not live with hundreds of others in a tent like these Bangladeshis did.

            But, I would hope for a compromise. Being a contractor with a reasonable wage and no benefits allow for the employer to keep prices low, and for people to have a job and invest their wages into their own savings/pension plan.

            Again, if I didn’t want to hear Ephilant’s opinion, I wouldn’t have invited it. So again, no animosity at all. Democracy allows all to have their say, as long as it’s done in mutual respect which I believe Ephilant does.

            And if I haven’t said it enough. Even though I would/could never support communist leftist views, and find their ways dangerous at times, I certainly would NOT put them in the even-more dangerous category we have in Greece now with a certain extreme right party.

            Just to be clear.

          • keeptalkinggreece

            all clear on board of the sinking ship 🙂

          • We’re very busy re-arranging the deck chairs. Mindless activity preventing us from looking up and seeing the icebergs ahead.

          • Homie, good to know you don’t take offence that easy. As you say yourself, you worked in he fields, but of course, you were young, probably more interested in chasing skirt than working, and did not have to feed a family from the pittance you were paid, if paid at all. I’m sure if push came to shove, Mammy and Daddy would have happily supplied a ticket back home. That is where the difference lies. These people have no home to go back to, or if they do, it’s probably a hell of a lot worse than being treated like a dog on a strawberry farm somewhere in Greece or gathering periwinckles in Morecombe Bay. Unless something happens and 20 or so of you drown, or get shot up. That was not part of the deal with you, was it. Big difference between a holiday in the sun masquarading as farm work, and trying to survive working like a dog. By the way, I hope you do realise that Capitalism and Communism are two faces of the same coin. They both work on the premises of taking goods, adding labour and selling for profit. The difference arises when it comes to distributing the profit. Do you want a few fat cats with big Swiss bank accounts, or do you want all involved in the process to be able to live a decent life? that is the fundamental question, everything else follows from that answer.

          • keeptalkinggreece

            he was ionteresting in chasing roots 🙂

          • @Ephilant/KTG: Indeed I was enjoying my evenings partying with the crowds and of course doing what any young man does with regards to “skirt” chasing. Of course, “root” chasing I don’t know that means “KTG”??

            With regards to your overall comments, I think that a compromise must be made so that employers can make enough profit to consider it worth it (risk to capital, etc) and provide a fair wage, but no benefits for this type of seasonal work, other than room/board maybe, but not in tents.

            The difference I see between Greece and the USA is that the low-level jobs in the USA (fast food, laborers etc) is just as bad. But once you go to the next level, the salaries start to jump incrementally. In Greece, I’m always shocked to find out that the guys at Goody’s make almost the same money as office workers here in Greece, which is just crazy. Why should a guy flipping burgers make what an accountant assistant make???

            Anyways, i’m glad we cleared the air, and just know that I may disagree but no malice, even though we may have traded verbal barbs in the past.

          • In my view, communist ideas are every but as dangerous as the right wing. A lot of the problems that we are experiencing are due to the State interfering too much in peoples’ live and jobs. The promise that the State will look after you in return is being broken, as history will tell you that it always is. Most times communism has been set up, there has been a famine episode.

          • Most times communism has been set up

            Communism is not something you “set up”. It’s a philosophy which is being interpreted by people. When it goes wrong, it is not the philosophy that has been proven wrong, it is not even the interpretation being proven wrong. You will find that the reason things go wrong is invariably the very same reason things in capitalist systems go wrong, being an “elite” takes over and the system becomes a vehicle for personal enrichment of the few rather than a vehicle for community improvement for all.
            As for famine following communism, please read up on the consistant results of IMF/World Bank interference in the 3rd world countries where famine has become an imposed way of life. Not really the bastions of communism, are they? The great African land grab, sponsored by the venture capitalist clients of IMF/World Bank, being the main cause of these constant faminesand persistent poverty.

          • Ah, yes. No matter how many times it goes wrong, it’s just because it wasn’t done right last time. It’ll be right next time.

          • PS. No disagreement with you over IMF /world bank. You won’t see me supporting any o fthe institutions of global governance, or their corporatist “crony capitalism” co-criminals. There isn’t only one way of getting things badly wrong.

          • Ah, yes. No matter how many times it goes wrong, it’s just because it wasn’t done right last time. It’ll be right next time.

            If not by trying, how would you then propose we do get it right?
            It’s really strange how people immediately go off and codemning “communism” (while most of them wouldn’t know even the basic principles on which it is based)as evil, bad, non-functioning if it goes wrong, while the flipside of the coin Capitalism will indeed get it right with a little bit of extra tweaking. A little austerity here and there, a bit of corruption, maybe a nice little war, a little offshore paradise for the boys, and all is well, right?

          • Communist countries have never gone to war ?

            No, don’t tell me. Let me guess. They weren’t REAL communist countries. The next try at communism will be REAL and they will be pacifist.

  5. John Paul DeJoria
    John Paul Jones DeJoria (born April 13, 1944) is an American billionaire businessman and philanthropist best known as a founder of the Paul Mitchell line of hair products. According to Forbes magazine, he is worth US$4 billion.
    John Paul Jones DeJoria was born the second son of an Italian immigrant father and a Greek immigrant mother[ on April 13, 1944[ in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. His parents divorced by the time he was two years old, and at nine he began selling Christmas cards and newspapers with his older brother to support his family. When his single mother proved unable to support both children, they were sent to an East Los Angeles foster home.
    DeJoria spent much of his youth in a street gang in East Los Angeles, but changed when he was told that he would “never succeed at anything in life” by a math teacher at John Marshall High School. He graduated in 1962 and spent two years in the United States Navy, after which he floated through a series of jobs ranging from janitor to insurance salesman.
    DeJoria entered the world of hair care as an employee of Redken Laboratories. He was fired from this position, he claims over a disagreement on business strategies. In 1980, he formed John Paul Mitchell Systems with hairdresser Cyril Thomson Mitchell and a loan for $700. In 1989, Cyril Thomson Mitchell died and was replaced by his son, Angus as company co-owner. As of 2011, John Paul Mitchell Systems had revenues of $900 million annually.
    DeJoria is involved in a number of other business ventures. The Patrón Spirits Company he co-founded in 1989 with business partner Martin Crowley sells more than 2 million cases of tequila annually. He was a founding partner of the House of Blues nightclub chain, subsequently sold to Live Nation for $350 million in 2006, and has interests in Pyrat Rum, Ultimat Vodka, Solar Utility, Sun King Solar, Touchstone Natural Gas, Three Star Energy, Diamond Audio, a Harley Davidson dealership, a diamond company (DeJoria), mobile technology developer ROK AMERICAS, the John Paul Pet company, which does hair and personal grooming for animals, and J&D Acquisitions LLC, the parent company for the Larson, Striper, Triumph, Marquis and Carver boat companies formed with Minneapolis-based investor Irwin L. Jacobs.