Cleaners protest ministry death

Members of a cleaners’ union are due to protest outside the Labor Ministry on Korai Street in central Athens at 6 p.m. today to demand answers from the government about the circumstances in which a father of four died while cleaning the building’s windows earlier this month. Asiz Emad, an Egyptian immigrant, died on December 19 died after losing his balance and falling from the third floor of the Labor Ministry. His death only came to light when Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) MP Michalis Kritsotakis tabled a question in Parliament on December 23 about the window cleaner’s death. The Labor Inspectorate, which operates under the auspices of the Labor Ministry, told Kathimerini yesterday that it did not make an announcement at the time because the employee who would have dealt with the matter was on vacation. The Labor Inspectorate said that legal action had been launched against the contractor responsible for cleaning the building. If found guilty of breaking the law, the company would be excluded from bidding for state contracts for the next three years. However, the Attica Union of Cleaners (PEKOP) is demanding that the government explain why Emad was working on a Sunday when the contract with the ministry stipulated the cleaning would take place on weekdays between 4 and 9 p.m. Also, the ministry building is officially kept closed on the weekend, so the unionists are asking for information about who let the cleaners in. PEKOP also wants to know why no record was kept of the cleaners’ presence in the building and why Emad had no social insurance. Constantina Kuneva, the Bulgarian cleaner disfigured in an acid attack in December 2008, was PEKOP’s general secretary at the time. Her plight had highlighted the operation of several cleaning companies who employ mostly immigrants without abiding by labor laws or paying their social security contributions.

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