NEWS

More and more older workers are ending up on the scrap heap

According to Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to work and to freely choose their profession, to have fair and satisfactory working conditions and to be protected from unemployment. Article 25 of the same declaration refers to the right to a standard of living capable of providing health and prosperity for the worker and his or her family, in particular food, clothing, housing, medical care and social services. Right to security People supposedly have the right to security against unemployment, illness, disability, widowhood, old age and any other circumstances outside their control that deprive them of the means to support themselves. In Greece today, anyone who loses his or her job after the age of 45-50 is virtually marginalized. Prevailing attitudes would have these people to be biologically weaker, more expensive and possessing outdated knowledge. In other words, 50-year-olds are not as strong as 30-year-olds and cost more to employ, particularly if bonuses for dependent children are added. Employers are looking for cheap, plentiful labor. Experience, which is the only advantage they have, albeit a powerful one, is being canceled out by new technology that is developing at an ever faster pace. It is almost impossible for the middle-aged to find a job again within a system that is focused solely on profit. The Manpower Organization (OAED), which theoretically finds people their next job, does little more than provide unemployment benefits. Despite various announcements and a recent law modernizing OAED’s organization, it has not yet succeeded in providing an individual approach to people who have lost their jobs. Although programs are available, OAED staff are not able to implement them. Vocational advisers often do no more than simply «serve customers.» The State, the politicians and the unions have lost any credibility in the eyes of those who are out of work and are at odds with their families, who constantly urge them to «stop sitting around the house and get out and find some work.» As their individual stories constitute the experience of the majority, Kathimerini sought out people who had lost their jobs at around the age of 50, at a time when Greece is second in Europe in the percentage of unemployed. This is likely to increase after 2004 when the Olympic Games are over and again after 2006 when funding from the Third Community Support Framework (CSFIII) dries up. Greece is also second in Europe in its inability to reintegrate the long-term unemployed (over a year) into the work force. There were 95,483 long-term jobless in 1995 and 116,387 in 2002, according to data from the General Confederation of Labor (GSEE). Their numbers are increasing at a rate that is almost triple that of the unemployed generally.