Dom Research Center   News Clippings: Greece


Gypsies back from UK slavery

Kathimerini, http://www.ekathimerini.com, 13 Feb 2004

A group of 54 Greek Gypsies returned home late on Wednesday after a rescue mission coordinated by the Greek Embassy freed them from what they called “slave labor” on a flower farm in Britain.

The group, from Sofades in the Karditsa area, say they were beaten, starved and denied wages after arriving in Britain in mid-January to take up jobs near Penzance in Cornwall.

“A couple of people came round the villages, offering work abroad for 50 euros a day,” said Apostolos Polyzos, a local official who traveled to Britain to find the group. “They said they could go all expenses paid; they’d be fed and stay in proper flats, and could leave if they didn’t like the work.” The group, among them 10 women, reached their workplace to find they would be staying in a barn with no heat or proper plumbing. “We were out working like slaves every day... picking flowers,” said Thomas Dalipis, one of the workers.

“We’d come back to the shed we were sleeping in and get dog food cans for dinner, and not even one per person.” Dalipis said at the end of the first week, the workers asked for their wages but were told they were still in debt to their employer as he had paid their fares from Greece. “Same story the next week,“ he said. “We tried to make a run for it but they sent in some heavies with sticks one night and threatened us. They beat up a couple of people as well.” After two weeks, the group got in touch with their hometown and asked for help. After Polyzos arrived in England, he got in touch with the Greek Embassy, which coordinated a rescue mission, he said. “I was there for almost a week, together with a priest the embassy had sent,” Polyzos said. “The gang leader wanted money to let them go, we were close to calling in the riot squad. In the end, we rounded them up and left.” (Reuters)

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