Deadly accidents on the job increasing among immigrants

The deaths of five people in work-related accidents across Greece on one day this week highlighted a serious problem, particularly for economic immigrants. According to data from the Labor Inspectorate (SEPE), 40 immigrants lost their lives on the job in 2002, 38 in 2001 and 20 in 2000. Officially, this dangerous trend is interpreted as a result of the growing employment of immigrants in construction and industrial work, and to the fact that foreign workers generally do the more dangerous jobs. At the same time, they are less skilled, rarely protected by a union, and even more rarely object to the working conditions such as time schedules set by contractors and those above them. Through the population in general, the percentage of work-related accidents is on a downward trend. From 3.81 percent of all accidents in 1997, the percentage dropped to 0.91 percent in 1999. The Social Security Foundation (IKA) does not have any data for the years since then, since the Labor Inspectorate’s transfer to the Prefectural Government sector has halted the collection of statistics. However, SEPE believes that according to data from both IKA and the Labor Ministry, the number of fatal work accidents is not actually declining, despite the general reduction in work-related accidents as a whole. Construction appears to be the sector in which the greatest number of fatal accidents occurs. Of the 153 reported to the Labor Inspectorate in 2002, 83 occurred on construction sites and public works. Only nine occurred in the food and drink industry.