Migration and Struggle in Greece

An interview with Elena Decheva, mother of Konstantina Kuneva

Posted by clandestina on 16 April 2009

This is an interview with Εlena Decheva,  mother of Konstandina Kuneva, taken on 28th of March 2009 at the Evangelismos Hospital by our Bulgarian comrade Ivo  from the Anarchist Federation of Bulgaria (a partner organisation in IFA”  .  We thank him very much for this.

What do you think, personally about everything that followed the attack against Kostadina ?

I can say that we got almost no help at all from Bulgaria. From Bulgaria came Hristo Zelqzkov [this is the current leader of the biggest Bulgarian trade-union], he wanted to enter the room and to visit Kostadina, I didn’t let him to do that, because at that time nobody was allowed to enter her room, he felt not very comfortable, because of that, but I was not to  let anyone in the room of Kostadina, because doctors told me so. We spoke with Zelqzkov, he said that the case with Kostadina will be researched and asked me if we wanted anything from Bulgaria. I said that we want a flat in Bulgaria, where it would be possible for Kostadina and her child to live some day, although probably she will stay and  live in Greece. Zelqzkov talked also with GSEE [ΓΣΕΕ – General Confederation of Workers] in Greece, but until now there are no results. Nor from Bulgaria, nor from the GSEE, nobody called me after that.

To me, it seems that all the help to Kuneva comes from the solidarity movement of the common people in Greece……

We survive here especially out of the help of the Greek people. When Zelqzkov came, he hended me 2 000 euro and then they sent 2 500 more to the Bulgarian embassy, then Katerina Dimitrova from the embassy gave this money to me.  But at the moment when Zelqzkov was here, he asked for how long time these money will be enough for paying a private nurse [which is necessary in Greece even within public hospitals, since the personnel is never enough] and I said I am paying to them 1700 euro for one week. That’s why when Zelqzkov asked for how long time these 4 500 euro will be enough for us, I told that it will be enough only for 2 weeks. His reaction was that we are spending a lot of money in Greece! Everybody knows that the  living standard in Greece is not like in Bulgaria at the moment! He told me also that the trade-unions in Bulgaria organized some fundraising for Kostadinka via mobile phone messages but since that period [more than 2 months], nobody called to tell me what happened with these money…There is no any other practical help from Bulgaria, nobody called me on the phone to ask or to say something …

Here in Greece there is very strong solidarity movement for Kostadinka and in Bulgaria there was nothing, except our small protest on the 8th of March, which was done by us, anarchists, leftists, students. What do you think, why things are like that ?

I think that here in Greece people did so many protests and strikes about Kostadinka, because she fought not only for her personal problems, but for everybody, for all the workers in Greece, who work in private firms, she knew the things very well, she knew that all these workers are exploited, that they do not have enough money, how it should be, according to the laws and Kostadinka fought for the rights of all workers in Greece – immigrants and Greeks. On the other hand, Bulgarians, even those who live here in Greece and work in the same factories or companies like Kostadina, they didn’t react like her. The were lied by the OIKOMET that Kostadina’s goal was to shut down the company and that they will be without a job. Of course, this was not true, but the women didn’t knew many things and could be deceived very easily. Some of them even stood far physically from Kostadinka: Bulgarian women, who were afraid to have contacts with her! Only one woman with whom I used to work before and I called her, she involved herself in Kuneva’s case passinately and did a lot of things in the Kostadinka’ s trade-union, she was the only one militant Bulgarian woman, except for my daughter.  She and other people now are going on with the struggle for worker’s rights in Greece. In Bulgaria there was nothing, although everything was well known from the first days… we, Bulgarians don’t do anything, because we do not act together united, even Bulgarians who are here in Greece, don’t stay together, we attack each other….That’s why in Bulgaria Kuneva’s case didn’t become an important question. Because we are not accustomed to strike, to look for our rights, there is no such tradition of protests and how to look after not only your personal rights but also for the rights of everybody.

 In Bulgaria, progressive people are very few and that’s why we did that protest about Kuneva very late, on the 8th of March, because we cannot have big support from the public.  That’s why we were only around 60 people at the protest…

This is a big shame for Bulgaria! Here people started to fight in solidarity with Kuneva from the first days and it was people around Greece, even not only in Greece, I can say that people abroad learned our case by Internet and now we have phone calls from many countries, but from Bulgaria there are no callings…

As far as I know, here in Greece the common people from the solidarity movement even helped with money, I heard that a lot of many were paid by the common people, not by the Greek state. Is that true ?

There is help from the Greek well.  In fact it is not from the state directly, it is true. It was mostly from the GSEE and from the common people.  Every working collective, every small trade-union was gathering money everyday and gave this money to me, hand to hand. Thanks to that money we managed to survive untill now.

In Bulgaria we heard that some Albanian man has been arrested for the attack against Kostadina ? Is this true ?

 I don’t think this man is the criminal who attacked Kostadinka, first of all, he was released after his arrest…

 In fact isn’t it the one who ordered the attack more important than the direct perpetrator?

Of course, it is important the man who ordered the attack to be found.  The direct perpetrator could not be found, but the man who ordered that crime should be found! Many times already from the Greek newspapers and televisions came people who asked me “What do you want from the Greek Police ?” And I said to them exactly the same thing – that the most important is to find the organizer of that crime, not the direct perpetrator…And I am saying too that if the police wants really to catch him, he will be cought. I believe that the cops don’t want to find him, because the state defends these companies because has profit from it.

And what do you expect to happen from this moment about Kostadina’s case, the cause she used to fight for?

I think that things are going well. If these companies don’t go away from the state factories and firms, people will reach some other decision. There are many solutions, for example state companies can pay money to workers, not private ones. Now the government wants the private firms to be responsible for the workers money and the employer not, but it could be different, it could be employer to be responsible for the salaries and private firms only for the work itself. These are the main goals which people in Greece fight about.

I heard from comrades and friends in Greece that employers instigate immigrants against each other. For example in OIKOMET workers from Bangladesh are against workers from Bulgaria and Albania and so on…

It is absolutely true. Before the attack against Kostadina, there were workers who went in front of the Ministry of labour organized with posters and shouted that Kostadina and people like her wants to close the firm, we will stay without a job and so on…. And these people were prepared by the firm before that to speak against the girls from the trade-unions so that immigrants who fight for their rights to leave the battle.  Fortunately, they stayed to defend their rights! All these people from the frim, prepared by the bosses were 200 meters next to syndicalists and shouted against them! Their aim was to split syndicalists and all this was organized by OIKOMET!

I am hearing now from people in Greece that the syndicate,whose secretary is Kuneva now is getting more strong and started to unite with other syndicates to fight together?

This trade-union has support from many other trade-unions and getting more united then before.  When we went for our first big strike we were around 10 000 people. Almost all of these people were members of different trade-unions from all over Greece plus citizens who know the situation very well, what is happening happens and what should be happening, according to the laws. There is defence from all kind of sides.

In the end something which you want to say in conclusion for the people in Bulgaria for example ?

For the people in Bulgaria – I don’t want they to be so closed like it was in the past and to continue to fight for their rights more hard then now! To look for their rights and to be on the streets more often like people in Greece are!

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