|Dom Research Center||News Clippings: Greece|
Greek Migrant Workers Claim They Were Beaten and Denied Wages in Britain
Tehran Times, http://www.tehrantimes.com, 14 Feb 2004
LONDON (AFP) -- A group of Greek migrant workers has fled Britain under a police escort after accusing their bosses of beating them and denying them wages, a British newspaper reported Friday.
The 44 men and 10 women, all ethnic romany from northern Greece, were housed in tents and an unheated shed while they worked picking flowers in Cornwall, southwestern England, according to ***The Independent***.
They claimed they were not paid for weeks, were given a slice of bread and a tin of dog food to eat at meal times, and were threatened when they complained and said they wanted to return home.
The plight of the workers, who the Independent said were in Britain legally, emerged a week after 19 presumed Chinese immigrants drowned while collecting shellfish on the northwestern coast of England.
Since that tragedy in the seaside resort of Morecambe, police have been investigating whether the Chinese were being used for cheap labor by "gang masters". The case prompted calls for a clampdown on the exploitation of immigrant workers.
The Independent said the 54 Greek Romanies returned home on Wednesday, helped by the Greek Embassy in London, a romany rights organization in Greece and a Greek Orthodox priest in Cornwall. One of the workers, Stelios Saris, told the British daily: "We (the men) were given a tent to sleep in with all of us crammed inside, while the women slept on the floor of a nearby shed. It was freezing cold and there was no heating or plumbing."
Another of the workers, Chrisovalandou Mandela, 19, said that after a 10-hour shift in the freezing midwinter mud and rain she would trudge back to an unheated shed where she and the other women were forced to live.
She claimed her group was beaten, starved and denied wages before they were allowed home.(end)
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