Protest action with dozens of participants is currently taking place outside of the stadium where the Eurovision contest is taking place in Malme, Sweden, in solidarity with the workers fired from Metropolis Music stores. The protesters have raised a banner in English with the phrase "Greece in Eurovision - Courtesy of the unpaid, laid-off workers of A. Kouris' Metropolis Music stores".
In addition, the protestors circulated fliers with the following statements: “Behind the lights, behind the awards unpaid workers, poverty and unemployment”, “Andreas Kouris, don’t forget: YOU OWE US”,” Andreas Kouris, from Athens to Malmö, WE WILL ALWAYS BE IN YOUR WAY”, Andreas Kouris’ doings in the “Metropolis” Stores: 13 stores closed, 180 layoffs, unpaid workers all around…”, “Employers’ impunity in Greece: IT’S FREE!”, “Hunger wages in Greece turn workers into slaves”, “In Greece, the European champion in unemployment, employers cast unpaid workers out in the cold”.
The text is being followed that it was distributed by the solidarity protestors:
GREECE IN EUROVISION
COURTESY OF: THE UNPAID, LAID-OFF WORKERS
OF A. KOURIS’ "METROPOLIS" MUSIC STORES
Three and a half years ago, Andreas Kouris, a young Greek “successful entrepreneur”, owner of MAD TV music channel and of a group of companies around it with activities in Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus, took over the “Metropolis” chain of music stores, which at the time had a share of over 50% in the music retail business in Greece.
In these three and a half years, Andreas Kouris has managed to close 13 “Metropolis” stores (there is only one currently active) and lay off 180 employees (out of 220 working in the stores). To this day, he refuses to pay accrued wages and compensations to nearly half of them; the total amount owed to them is over €600,000, and of course, Mr. Kouris has duly pocketed it.
Although Andreas Kouris has been claiming over the last year and a half that he has no money to pay the salaries and compensations he owes to his former employees, he sure seems to have enough to organize extravagant and expensive events such as the Greek Eurovision Song Contest. Let it be noted that for the first time ever the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation made this year a direct assignment of the Greek Eurovision Song Contest to a private entrepreneur, who just so happened to be our very own Andreas Kouris…
Faced with this attempted robbery of our salaries and compensations, we, the unpaid, laid-off employees of the “Metropolis” Stores, have decided to act. For over a year and a half, we have been struggling with undiminished intensity on the streets and inside the courts, refusing to give away even a drop of our sweat to Andreas Kouris. We have organized approximately 70 protest rallies outside various former “Metropolis” stores as well as during the various fiestas organized by Andreas Kouris, such as the aforementioned Greek Eurovision Song Contest.
To be sure, in Greece, during the current economic crisis, entrepreneur Andreas Kouris behaves just like any other employer, since employers’ impunity reigns freely, supported by the state agencies and the ever obstructionist legal authorities.
In Greece, the European champion in unemployment, employers may offer hunger wages and yet have their employees work for free, eventually leaving them unpaid out in the cold. As the official unemployment rate is now over 27% (and rising…), there are 450,000 households without a single employed member, wages are currently around 450 euros, unpaid workers are over 400,000, and precarious and cheap part-time labor is the only opportunity offered to the unemployed youth. No wonder that employers are able to get richer and richer, as workers increasingly turn to slaves.
Under these circumstances, the struggle of the laid-off employees of the “Metropolis” Stores stands out as a powerful voice of resistance, coming directly out of the heart of the Greek society.
Our struggle is a struggle against employers’ impunity
Our struggle is a struggle against the immunity offered to employers by the political authorities and the state apparatus.
Our struggle will continue until its final vindication.
The Laid-off Employees of the “Metropolis” Stores
Initiative of solidarity with the struggle of the laid-off employees of the “Metropolis” Stores