Simon Travels to the World famous Greek Ship Yards, ships and Shipping are where much of Greece’s wealth is held. Greek Ships are the largest shipping fleet by Tonnage and the richest quotient of their numbers continue to get Richer.
However the recent Financial Crisis has meant that Ship building has dwindled to an all time low. Eighty percent of all shipyard staff are now on the dole. The only ship in the yard when Simon visits is one under refurbishment and the men working on it are under a lot of strain. One man has only worked 50 hours in the last year and he says younger men are relying on parents to feed them when the work dries up.
The Peloponnese Peninsula was once the home of the ancient cities of Sparta and Corinth.
It is separate from the mainland by a narrow canal that saves a round trip around the peninsula of Four hundred and fifty miles .
As Simon enters the area it becomes apparent that agriculture is still a massive part of the Greek Economy. Poly tunnels reach as far as the eye can see. Soft fruits like strawberries are a very profitable crop. Strangely though, despite high unemployment ,almost all of the work in the stiflingly hot tunnels is being done by non Greek nationals .Predominantly very poorly paid migrant workers. Greeks have tried to extricate themselves from the work of the land.
These migrant workers often live in tents beside the fields with little to no sanitation. The pay is appalling and workers rights are almost non existent.
At the farm Simon visits the workers are mostly from Bangladesh and earn €22 a day . There are over Half a million Migrant workers in Greece today. There are many who are illegal so are thus unprotected by the law when maltreatment occurs.
One gentleman along with others took their employer to task for failing to pay wages for six months. The employer lost his temper and shot a gun into them and thirty five men were injured. The man was shot in the chested leg with the bullet still in the leg to this day.The Police failed to prosecute and the workers ended up having to pay legal fees.
Railway travel is another area where spending far outweighed the need for such extravagance. Simon’s train is practically empty and has a carriage decked out like a child’s play area.One minister has been quoted as saying it would be cheaper to buy everyone travelling a taxi fare rather than pay for the expenditure that their investment cost .
Unlike in the UK, Bears are still a naturally occurring species in Greece. Sadly they have been heavily affected by Human Cruelty and culling to save livestock . A Charity named Arcturos, is redressing that balance. They have established a legally supported sanctuary to save the animals from bear dancing in local villages, where up until very recently bear dancing was common and run like a mini circus. The illegal practice of being taken from their mother as a tiny cub, chains placed through nose and mouth , their teeth and claws broken and made to walk on hot stilts to create the dancing move that is recognisable. Now there is land to release these bears so the authorities are able to enforce the rules.
Wild bears often break through the fence so it is clear that nature finds a way and then
Simon is taken to see another little cub that the vets think was hit on the spine so that it drags it’s legs.
The other side of the coin is that the farming community are concerned that Wild bears will attack flocks and any loss of wild stock would be catastrophic in a time of Finacial Austerity. Arcturos have again taken a novel approach to the problem, a breeding programme for Traditional Greek sheep dogs, a large sturdy breed that will Bark to ward off the bears, trained to stay in the midst of the herd to keep them contained their bumptiousness scares the bears away.