Firefighters transferred to the Fraport airports of the cosmopolitan islands Mykonos and Santorini are literally struggling to survive because the low wages do not allow them a descent living. They sleep on mattresses on the floor, inside fire trucks or even ambulance vehicles, they can hardly get a meal for reasonable prices.
Seventy firefighters assigned to the airports of the expensive islands of Mykonos and Santorini live like homeless. The fire fighters’ assignment is in the context of the contract between the government and the new owner of 14 regional airports, the Fraport.
However, their low wages do not allow a descent living. Especially hit are those assigned to the islands of Mykonos and Santorini, main destinations for foreign tourists.
The problem for the firefighters is the high cost of living on these islands.
Firefighter assigned to Mykonos airport sleeping on the floor – picture uploaded by President of Fire Brigades Officers, Yannis Stamoulis, on April 17,2017.
Locals are reportedly not willing to rent cheap as they expect to earn by renting to tourists who can pay even 200 euro per night.
The salary for a firefighter on five-year contract is €750 euro, while the permanent staff earns €1,050 per month.
“Landlords accepting to rent to firefighters ask €8,000 for a 30m2 apartment during the touristic season,” writes protothema.gr adding that landlords ask also a down payment of 6,000 to 7,000 euros. The agreement is without leasing contract and receipt for the tax office.
Another problem is the high cost of food, with the lowest price to be at 8 euro for a dish at the local restaurants. For two meals per day, the total cost would be €480 per month.
The 18 firefighters have found provisional shelter in a large storage room for trucks because there is no firefighters’ station at the airport of Mykonos. A hotel donated old mattresses, the commander sleeps on a couch in a small room.
Similar is the situation for the 35 firefighters assigned to the airport of Santorini. For a small room with WC, rent price is at least 350 euros per month.
The seven people per shift are forced to spend the night on three beds, one couch, two mattresses put on the floor. One firefighter sleeps inside the firefighting vehicle.
The infrastructure of the airport is considered as “unacceptable”.
Furthermore, the firefighters both in Mykonos and Santorini have complained about the service equipment, they denounced worn out vehicle tires, expired breathing devices. The latter could turn fatal when used.
“Fraport managers promised to replace the equipment in the long run, without giving details,” protothema notes.
After the intervention of the Firefigthers’ Association, those on the island of Mykonos will be hosted at a hotel for 100 euro per person until the end of the month. The plan foresees that they will be then transferred to containers that will be set up in the airport area.
The fire fighters are angry about the unacceptable conditions, many of them threaten to apply for a two-year sabbatical, then make use of their right to ask for a new assignment.
The deal between the Greek government and the Fraport foresaw that the Greek Fire Brigades provide staff for the protection of the 14 regional airports obtained by Fraport on 11. April 2017.
The new services had to be established hastily, while the new owner obviously failed to provide the necessary infrastructure for the staff.
The Greek Fire Brigades were obliged to proceed to ‘forced trasnfer’ of personnel after calls for voluntary trasnfer were not satisfying. Permanent firefighters, those on 5-year contract and administration personnel were transferred from other islands and regions.
The new Fire Brigades services at the airport of Mykonos foresees 2 officers and 32 firefighters, while the airport of Santorini is to be staffed with 2 officers and 36 firefighters.
As a measure of comparison: Ermoupolis Fire Brigades on the island of Syros in the same Cyclades group has a total staff of 39 people. This include permanent, 5-year contract and seasonal personnel, forensic, administrative and fire safety personnel.
The Fire brigade officers in the new services will be primarily involved in the fire safety of the airports. “In cases of emergency, they will probably be able to operate outside the airports for civil and forestry situations. However, this can occur only when there is additional personnel and fire truck vehicle to the assigned with the fire safety of the airports. Therefore, except for special cases, the fire brigades will be exclusively used at the facilities of the international airports and not for the citizens’ service,” stresses KoiniGnomi.gr, a daily newspaper published on the island of Syros.
Those transferred to the Fraport airports are mostly young firefighters without family obligations.
Stavros Roussos, president of the Firefighters Association in South Cyclades pointed out at the hastily established new fire brigades services at the airports, stressing that the personnel transfers took place before facilities for housing and equipment storage were established. “There are cases where 7-10 people have to share a house paying incredibly high rent,” Roussos said, He underlined the many problems caused by the trasnfer of personnel from already understaffed fire departments in several regions across the country due to the austerity hiring stop.
A total of 135 fire fighters have been deployed to the 14 Fraport airports. They had to be at the airports within 24 hours after receiving their deployment order. Communist party KKE denounced that they had to cover their travel expenses from their own pockets.
According to newspaper Vima.gr, the deployed firefighters do not receive food and accommodation allowance. That’s another austerity measure imposed by Greece’s creditors for deployment of public servants.
During a relevant debate about the problem at the Parliament on April 7th, Minister for Public Order, Nikos Toskas, said that “there were commitments for measures.” He had promised an allowance of 200 euros. The chief of Greek Fire Brigades was to travel to these two islands on the next day to seek solution with local authorities and hotel and home owners.
By April 24th, the problem was yet to be solved.
Fire fighters also on the islands of Kefalonia, Skiathos and Lesvos face housing problems.
Who is to blame for the dramatic situation? The Greek government that hastily deployed the fire fighters? The Fraport that did not provide housing?
And there is, of course, one more crucial question: Why should the Greek state pay for the safety of the privatized airports? Oh. It is in the contract.