16th of April: NGO Workers’ strike against refugee evictions
Approximately one month ago, the Immigration Policy Ministry’s sudden decision was announced regarding the gradual termination of accommodation and financial aid to refugees who have received a positive response to their asylum application, starting from those who were recognized as refugees before July 31, 2017. Similar decisions had been announced in the past but proved impossible to implement. However, this time, the Ministry and its partners seem determined to push hundreds of refugees living in Greece to homelessness and poverty, forcing them to leave the apartments or camps in which they have been living, by the end of March 2019.
From 2015 onwards, after what was later called the "refugee crisis", the state's choice to entrust responsibility for meeting the needs of refugee populations (health, housing, education, legal support, transportation, interpretation, etc.) to NGOs was obvious. The refugee movement is presented as a temporary case, the services are provided with a -permanently postponed- expiration date and the refugees find themselves trapped in a regime of precariousness and uncertainty, with three-month extensions of their accommodation. With the Greek state’s approval, the NGOs are managing huge funds, and at the same time, they invest in overexploitation of their workers, by violating any labor legislation.
With the Greek state’s overall management aiming -as usual- at the production of exclusion and marginalization, suppressing any attempt of emancipation, struggle and organized solidarity, the Ministry justifies the decision in two axes:
• Initially, it argues that refugee status also automatically means the possibility for social integration, housing, and employment. The state is well aware that refugees who are to be evicted -in the same way as they were hosted on an urgent and temporary basis– never gained access to integration programs (e.g. Greek language courses or job counseling) as these simply did not exist.
• On the other hand, the pretext of "decongesting" the reception and identification centers at the entry points comes back as an argument. Three years after signing the EU-Turkey agreement, which transforms the Aegean islands into "warehouses" of people, reception centers into concentration camps and NGOs operating there in manslaughter houses, the Greek government does not hesitate to use the asylum-seekers who are stacked in Moria, due to the state’s decisions, in order to the cruelty it imposes on the lives of the refugees in the center of Athens.
The management of NGO΄s, in spite of their pretentious objections, accept the decision and share responsibility in implementing the eviction plan, while adapting it to their own business plan. At the same time, they demand from us, NGO employees, to contribute to the further victimization of the individuals to be evicted, to report regarding their vulnerability and participate in the reasoning ‘the most vulnerable wins’.
As NGOs employees, we refuse to remain inactive towards the situation unfolding next to us, in the tents of isolated camps in the islands, in isolated inland camps, in apartment rentals in the city center. Besides, our own precarious labor reality is defined by the same neoliberal regime. The precariousness in the lives of refugees is the other facet of our own labor insecurity and, against them both, we project our solidarity and common struggles. We do not accept our involvement in the appropriation of vulnerability as a tool for managing refugee flows and we do not follow instructions with the direction of depriving and controlling the refugee population. We can only once again oppose the NGOs' management, stand firmly on the side of the refugees and show our solidarity in their struggles for life, freedom, self-determination, and dignity. We have been hired in order to contribute to the meeting of the needs of the refugee population, not to force refugees into homelessness and misery.
WE DEMAND THE ANNULMENT OF THE DECISION THAT PUSHES REFUGEES TO HOMELESSNESS
AGAINST THE NGO MANAGEMENTS WHICH IMPLEMENT THE MINISTRY’S DECISION
AGAINST THE CRIMINALISATION OF WORKERS WHO REFUSE TO FORCE REFUGEES INTO HOMELESSNESS
DIGNITY IN LIFE AND LABOUR FOR ALL
SOLIDARITY WITH REFUGEES, SUPPORT TO THOSE WHO WILL RESIST THIS DECISION
WE CALL ALL NGO EMPLOYEES TO STRIKE ON TUESDAY 16/4AND JOIN THE STRIKE MARCH AT 12:00 IN FRONT OF THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM
WE CALL ALL EMPLOYEES IN NGOs, UNIONS, INITIATIVES, AND PEOPLE TO THE NEXT OPEN ASSEMBLY ON TUESDAY 09/04 AT 18:00 AT POLYTECNEIO, GKINI BUILDING IN ORDER TO PLAN AN AFTERNOON MARCH AGAINST EVICTIONS ON THE DAY OF THE STRIKE