Serdaris textile factory

The Greek-German Serdaris BW textile firm based in Thessaloniki closed down in 1994, when it moved to Bulgaria. In its heyday it employed 300 workers, a number which had fallen to 120 shortly before it closed. «In the early years you used to be able to find something. But as time passed there were fewer jobs. One fellow worker reached the point where she’d had 17 employers in one year,» says Dimitra Kanakouvi, now 45. «Now things are even worse. Factories keep closing in northern Greece. Machinists are now doing odd jobs, running errands. We go down on our knees and beg for seasonal work picking tobacco. They cram us into trucks to get there and bring us back at night.» Another woman of 40 who used to work at Schiesser-Palco, now closed, explains that very few of her former colleagues were lucky enough to find work at a supermarket (for four hours a day, part time). «Very few managed to get work in factories at 3 euros an hour, without social insurance and whenever there is work. Some of them went to cleaning firms that pay 2.80 euros an hour. A six-day week is recorded as five days and they only get half the stamps. They sign up for one sum of money but get something different.»