OPINION

Textile closures

Economic activity in Naoussa froze yesterday as the authorities and the population of the Macedonian town are trying to avert the closure of two textile firms currently employing some 3,000 people. Factory workers, traders, small manufacturers, builders and municipal authority officials all took part in the 24-hour strike, protesting the looming shutdown of the two textile industries, which would mean economic disaster for the entire city. Meanwhile, 320 workers of three textile firms at Thessaloniki stopped work, demanding payment of unpaid wages. In one of the northern city’s factories, workers held a sit-in demonstration. These and similar reports expose the social dimensions of an oft-neglected problem that affects thousands of households across the country. Many hard-working, low-paid employees in productive sectors have to resort to desperate and usually futile action (like sit-ins) in a bid to draw politicians’ attention to their plight. The lack of interest in these employees, who are not responsible for the economic woes of their factories, contradicts the public concern about the staff of Olympic Airlines who are neither low-paid nor free of blame for the dismal state of the ailing national air carrier. Union leaders, in collaboration with the different administrations of Olympic, have in the past given the green light to the massive recruitment of political friends and contributed, directly or indirectly, to the squandering of the notorious restructuring plans. The conservative government must do something about the thousands of job losses in the textile industry. All these people want is to be paid their back wages and a basic salary. For sure, it is not up to the government to look after the business people who have failed their companies because of poor management or unwillingness to modernize. Nevertheless the government has an obligation to protect domestic labor against shifts in the global market or wrong-headed business choices. It is a basic act of social welfare and fairness.