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Appeal: Konstantina Kouneva

Via the KOE.

Athens, 29 January 2009

An Appeal for Solidarity

Dear Friends and Comrades,

We urge you to read the following information and to express your solidarity:
Konstantina Kouneva, today 44 years old, is a Bulgarian immigrant living and working in Greece in order to support her family. She worked for many years as a janitor-employee of the private firm “OIKOMET”, which rents its employees in public sector’s enterprises. This firm is owned by Mr. Ikonomakis, old cadre of the social-democratic opposition party PASOK, and its legal councillor is Mr. Tzanis, former vice-minister of Interior Affairs (when PASOK was in power). The last years, Konstantina was cleaning the installations of the “Athens Piraeus Electric Railways (ISAP)”. The sector of janitors is one of the most exploited, as many employees are immigrants and subject of blackmailing by their bosses, while the state services and the trade-union bureaucrats do nothing in order to apply even the most basic and insufficient labour legislation.

Konstantina is an immigrant; a woman; a janitor. But she is much more than that: she is also a conscious unionized worker, and she became one of the most active leaders of the All-Attica Union of Janitors. This Union is one of the most combative, despite the fact that the trade-union bureaucrats (most of them belonging to PASOK and to the actual government right-wing party) do nothing to assist them in their hard struggle for the respect of the most elementary rights of their members and of the janitors as a whole. Konstantina soon became the soul of the Union: she was always in the first line of the struggle, unionizing her colleagues and demanding the respect of the labour legislation, despite the increasing threats and discrimination against her.

Konstantina is an example to us all. She is a model unionist, a personification of workers’ dignity and of belief in the rights of the working class. Konstantina is “stubborn”: she did not yield to the bosses’ threats. She was characterized as “the epitome of cheekiness” by her employee: “How can SHE, an IMMIGRANT single mother, a JANITOR, dare to challenge the system?” The initial blackmail and the transfer to night shift (so she could not take proper care of her child) did not intimidate her. She kept on fighting. So, anonymous death threats followed. She still did not yield. Until…

On midnight of 22 December 2008, while she returned from work to her home in a poor neighborhood of Athens, Konstantina Kouneva became the victim of murderous attempt. The goons of the bosses immobilized her and threw vitriol on her face. Then, they opened her mouth and threw the acid down her throat. Since that night, Konstantina fights for her life in the Intensive Care Unit in Athens. She has lost one eye and her face is burned; but the worst is that her digestive system does not exist anymore, burned by the acid. The doctors are struggling to save her life and her condition remains very critical. Her mother and her son Emmanuel (who suffers from cardiac decompensation) survive and take courage thanks to the active solidarity of hundreds of workers.

The “justice” and the police did nothing until today in order to find the perpetrators of this murderous attack against this valiant and genuine representative of the workers. The bourgeois Media did not find time and space to report her case. But her colleagues, all the honest workers, and the Radical Left organizations, did not let this crime to be covered by the guilty alliance of government, bosses, Media and “justice”. Today, despite the imposed silence of the mainstream Media, the whole Greece knows the case of Konstantina Kouneva. Many mobilizations of solidarity with Konstantina and with the militant trade-union movement took place since 22 December, including attacks against the ISAP installations and marches with the participation of thousands of people. The militant spirit of December’s Revolt gives life to this extraordinary flow of solidarity.

The Communist Organization of Greece is active part of this movement of solidarity, which moves under the slogan “Konstantina you are not alone”. We address an appeal to all the progressive forces to express their solidarity with Konstantina Kouneva, with the All-Attica Union of Janitors, with all those most exploited and “anonymous” militant workers who save the honor of the trade-union movement and continue its best militant traditions, bravely facing the attacks of the bosses and the hostility of the state and of the “official” trade-union leaderships.

The Union of the Working People, which is active in the movement of solidarity with Konstantina, would welcome your support and the support of trade-unions from your country. Please send solidarity messages to the Union of the Working People, which will transfer it to Konstantina and to her Union: enosiergazomenon@gmail.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (please send a copy to our email too). Also, consider the possibility to address the trade-unions and other workers’ organizations in your country and ask them to contribute financially in the fund-raising organized by the Union of the Working People for Konstantina. The details of the bank account opened by the Union of Working People for Konstantina are the following:

Bank Account Number (IBAN): GR3401106640000066474762649

Bank International Code - BIC: ETHNGRAA

Bank Branch: National Bank of Greece, Branch 664

Branch Address: Spyrou Patsi 2, GR-10441 Athens, Greece

Branch Phone Nr: +30-210-5224016

Account Holder: Papageorgiou Marriana (Union of the Working People representative)

In case you participate in the fund-raising, please inform the Union of the Working People and/or KOE.

We thank you in advance for any action you may undertake in order to express your solidarity and to condemn the murderous crime against the militant worker and unionist Konstantina Kouneva, who is always fighting for her life and for the rights of the most oppressed and exploited workers!

In solidarity,

Communist Organization of Greece (KOE), International Relations Department

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