Κυριακή, 11 Νοεμβρίου 2012

Greece today. In need of a spot of Drain-o...


The following is an article by Konstantinos Zoulas a reporter with the Kathimerini newspaper.
"Don't let any of the worms out!!!
"You buuuums!!!! Don't you dare step outside of these doors. Bums, you bums!!!
 Those of us who found ourselves at the Greek Parliament on Wednesday, covering the voting procedure, witnessed some incredible and hard to describe, scenes. The blonde lady who was screaming, while backed by dozens of her colleagues, also beside themselves, scaring us with their hooligan-style rage, inside the so called "temple of Democracy": "Geooorge, you go and barricade the other door!! Mitsos, you come with me!" shouted another. "None of those worms should be allowed out" agreed another lady, and the crowd kept getting bigger, surrounding the hall.


The "worms" as expected, looked scared, as the rebellious staff, reminded one of rats suddenly appearing n large numbers from everywhere, out of the closed "nests"of their offices, suddenly afraid that their "cheese" was in danger..

And when the first MPs showed their faces outside the Parliament hall, we reporters, were at a loss for words. It wasn't just that the staff was threatening to beat them up. The most shocking was the way they addressed them. Mr Chrisochoidis was suddenly "piss off", Michalakis", Mr Kammenos "Panoulis, you go and try those tricks elsewhere", Mr Kouvelis "Now lets see what your little party can do..." while our colleague Dim. Takis was slapped around for daring to lift his mobile phone in an attempt to save the  unprecedented mess for posterity's sake.

A little later a middle aged man, possibly their spokesman, beckoned to them and announced in a low voice: "Don't cheer, but we went to Vangelis, (meaning Mr Meimarakis, chairman of the Parliament) and what Stournaras will announce soon will allow us all to return to our desks."

You probably already know, how these hundreds of Parliament staff were appointed and what scandalous benefits they continue to get. All you have to do is take a look at the ultramodern daycare center set up inside the Parliament. Those of us there on Wednesday, felt that we were experiencing with frightening symbolism the reason behind the terrible plight our country is experiencing. It was as if suddenly our MPs had met "their match" in the faces of the exact people they had seen fit to appoint to cushy jobs within their "house"... That means their relatives, their "koumparous" (best men) and their fellow villagers. And for this we wondered if, at the end of the day, it really is impossible for those who got this country into its current state to be the ones who will save it from its fate...

11/11/2012

A small note to explain some of the background for those not "in the know"...

Permanent staff at Parliament number 1340 people.
Add to that 1200 staff appointed and detached to various MPs offices.
Total cost of wages: 106 million euros. They receive two extra monthly payments making them the only staff in Greece to get paid 16 months a year!
A newly appointed staff member with basic education (ie cleaning staff) has a starting wage of 1900 euros.(net)
They have been repeatedly been exempt from various insurance changes and wage cuts.
They are pensioned off after 28,5 years of work and get a "golden handshake" equal to two monthly wages per year worked (100.000-150.000 euros)
Their insurance fund gets the benefit of all services housed in the Parliament (cafe/bar, restaurant, banking services) and also has the rights to the recycling.
The parliament also employs 74 special guards, but no one knows where they are posted.
Police officers stationed there get an extra bonus.
In the last five years the staff doubled! All the parties agreed silently to this.
Most of the staff are relatives of MPs, politicians, judges and policemen, while in certain cases even old politicians have been employed.
And many more benefits...
It is a commonly known "secret" that not all of the staff come to work. The reason is simple. If they did there would not be enough room for them.
For example there are not enough chairs. When someone gets up to go for a smoke, his place, behind a screen permanently stuck on Facebook, is immediately taken.

(The above details I got from another excellent article by Nikolas Vafeiadis, published on 26th of September 2010 and titled "In the depths of Parliament". It cost him his job.)

The scene described in the beggining, happened when the staff found out that the new memorandum, included cuts to their wages too (for the first time) Mr Stournaras is the Greek Minister of Finance.


My comment

I hate to say it, but there is no hope for Greece while these people remain in power. All the parties in our parliament play "the game". Whether Left, Right or Center they are just actors in a play set up to make the Greek people that someone is looking after their interest. Well they are not. The only interests they look after are their own, of their friends, of their relatives and of course, above all, of their "benefactors".
Even Syriza, the coalition of the left that looks set to win the next elections, is essentially what Greeks call "alli mia apo ta idia" (the same again) having had its numbers and votes sweled by the influx of renegade Pasok and various other party members who are looking to essentialy save their skins for another round of elections. Thay are all useless.
Greece's political system is like a blocked drain. Full of muck and ready to blow, showering shit all over everything. I just hope to God, that when eventually things settle down, there are enough people with enough brains and morals left to make good of a terrible situation. And that maybe we can live to see a new Greece, worthy of its history and people.

Peter Papageorgiou