Posts Tagged ‘immigrants’

Manolada 1

On April 17th 2013, about 30 migrant workers from Bangladesh were injured in a shooting at a strawberry farm in Nea Manolada, Greece. A group of about 200 workers had gathered to demand a 6-month overdue pay when the three Greek foremen of the farm opened fire using hunting rifles against the crowd. Several workers were taken to the hospital, some of them in critical condition. The three perpetrators were arrested after two days on the run while the owner of the farm was arrested soon after the events.

Manolada 2

Working and living conditions in the strawberry fields of Nea Manolada easily resemble those of the 19th century plantations of the American South making modern slavery a reality. The workers live in crowded greenhouses, sleep on the ground and have minimum access to clean water and no medical care. Some of them have their families with them living under the same horrible conditions. Most of the workers do not have the necessary documents for legally working in the country making them susceptible to constant threats by their employers of being reported to the police and deported from the country. They are subjects of utter exploitation: with a daily pay of €23 of which almost half is spent on accommodation, they are working extremely long hours, allowed only a single break under the burning sun and eat only once per day.

However, the events in Nea Manolada came as no surprise. Nea Manolada has previously been in the spotlight over exploitation of migrants. In 2008 workers staged a strike against inhumane conditions. In summer 2009, two men had tied two migrant workers to their motorbike and dragged them in the streets of the town because they thought they had stolen some sheep. While in 2011, the journalist G. Pouliopoulos and the photojournalist I. Chatzistaurou were heavily beaten while investigating the living and working conditions of the migrant workers in Nea Manolada. Despite these events in March 2011, G. Papandreou, the Greek prime minister at the time was applauding the producers of Nea Manolada for their investments and pioneering cultivation methods referring to the strawberries as “red gold”.

The events in the bloody strawberry fields of Nea Manolada are not isolated incidents. They occur under the political coverage of the last governments and the silence of the mainstream media, all in the name of ‘economic growth’! They are coming at a time where migrant workers are demonised, as the source of all evils, by the far-right/fascist Golden Dawn party and at a time where the established state itself is piling up illegal immigrants in detention camps to live under inhuman conditions. It becomes evident that there is an on-going social decay where human and working rights are routinely ignored and the survival of the exploited, the Bangladeshi workers in this case, is always at stake.

These last events sparked a nationwide boycotting campaign of Nea Manolada’s strawberries. Many big supermarkets have already removed Vangelatos SA from their suppliers after receiving complaints from their customers.