Thursday, 11 July 2013

The weeping (Ο κλαυθμών)

In the horrible little Greece that Ellada has become as of late, regarding the question of jobs for the people, pay rises, and now, the redundancies that are being discussed and negotiated, it has always been about public service jobs and nothing else. And so it continues, with the forced mobilisations, mandatory redundancies and firing of employees - it's all about one class of people who gained rights above all others: either you were a public servant or you were not.

And so it remains, as it has always been this way unfortunately in contemporary Greece, always. We even have a whole square named after weeping public servants: Πλατεία Κλαυθμώνος, Plateia Klafthmonos, the Square of the Weeping:
"Klafthmonos is the name of a central public square in Athens... since 1878, the name that remains until today, "Klafthmonos' Square... The name "Klathmonos" was given to it after a vignette in the Estia magazine, because, there in front of the Finance Ministry, redundant civil servants gathered together after every election to protest against their dismissal, since at the time, there was no permanence of public employees and each new government laid off employees hired by the previous government and recruited their own voters... at the end of June 1989 on the occasion of the unveiling of the eponymous sculpture, the name of the square was changed to "National Reconciliation Square", a name which is not in use."
It's still Klafthmonos Square today, and it reminds us of what we are by now used to for over a century and a half - that public servants are a social class in Greece, and that - most likely - this will not change.
Life continues much the same for most of us.
When Harilaos Trikoupis made it a term in the revised Constitution of Greece in 1911 that the permanence of public employees is guaranteed, he had no idea what his edicts would be putting the country through a century later. Trikoupis was Prime Minister seven times. Despite the economic crisis of his sixth term, he was still voted in one more time:
His sixth turn in office (June 22, 1892–May 15, 1893) was a dramatic one. The country's treasury had been depleted by overspending and systemic corruption often caused by political campaigns in which parties promised massive spending programs. Trikoupis stood before parliament and made the most famous statement of his career: "Regretfully, we are bankrupt" (Greek: "Δυστυχώς επτωχεύσαμεν"). The servicing of foreign loans was suspended, and all non-essential spending was cut.
And the worst thing is: Nothing seems to have changed since then. We are back to square one: already, the cries and wails are ruining the summer peace...

UPDATE: A little extra information from someone more knowledgeable - Athenians used to refer to the fired public servants as 'Pausanians'; it's a play on words, using the verb 'pavo' (I cease) since their dismissal was more euphemistically phrased as 'cessation'.

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.