Tourism in Greece: Union strike looming at peak of summer season

Written by on July 19, 2017 in Economy - Comments Off on Tourism in Greece: Union strike looming at peak of summer season

Unions in Greece are threatening an official strike in the tourism sector. They cite exploitation and low wages as their main motives. A walkout of hotel personnel, waiters and other tourism industry employees might cause a problem for Greece, at the peak of the summer season.

This year, Greece is expecting visitors in record numbers. More than thirty million foreign tourists will likely arrive. This would amount to three foreign tourists per inhabitant, who will leave behind a total of 14 milliard Euro (American English: 14 billion) when they return home.

But a strike would amount to a pretty grave issue, especially right now, in the middle of the summer. So, why would the unions choose this critical moment for a walkout?

Union officials say, the huge profits expected by hotels, restaurants and similar businesses during the season were accumulated on the backs of employees who were being exploited. According to them, there are well over 30,000 tourism workers, many of whom are overworked and exhausted, while wages are low.

Many are seasonal workers who already know they will not have a job anymore, once the summer season ends in September. Many employees refrain from complaining officially, because they might lose their jobs much earlier if they do.

On top of that, wages are very low, even though profits for the businesses employing them are increasing substantially. Many Greek employees in the business earn 600 to 700 Euro per month. Those scandalous amounts have not been increased in years. Also, many hotels and restaurants pay their staff with very long delays.

The Greek also employ Russians and other Eastern Europeans, whose wages are even lower than those of Greek employees.

As early as tomorrow, on Thursday, July 20, 2017, two unions intend to show businesses in the tourism sector what they think of their wide-spread exploitation, by staging a nationwide strike. The latter might prove to be effective, but hurt the business at the same time. From the perspective of the unionists, the business is hurting itself, by squeezing employees like oranges.

In Bulgaria, where 8 to 9 million tourists are being expected this year, things are similar, on a smaller scale. Many Bulgarians, who may have worked at the Black Sea coast in the past summers, chose to work abroad this time around, in countries where they can expect decent salaries. For businesses at the coast, low salaries lead to self-inflicted issues.

Both Bulgaria and Greece are benefiting from tourism fears in countries like Turkey or Egypt. But the employees are not.

The difference between the two summer holiday destinations: Tourists in Greece swim in the Mediterranean. It is a lot cleaner than the Black Sea, which is considered a threat to public health by several organisations. While Bulgaria does have nice beaches too, Greek beaches tend to be even more attractive. Also, Greece will welcome three and a half times as many tourists as Bulgaria.





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