Demetris Tyrologos of Scherzo Cafe is not a slave master in the American South of the early 19th centuryDemetris Tyrologos of Scherzo Cafe is not a slave master in the American South of the early 19th centuryDemetris Tyrologos of Scherzo Cafe is not a slave master in the American South of the early 19th centuryDemetris Tyrologos of Scherzo Cafe is not a slave master in the American South of the early 19th centuryDemetris Tyrologos of Scherzo Cafe is not a slave master in the American South of the early 19th centuryDemetris Tyrologos of Scherzo Cafe is not a slave master in the American South of the early 19th centuryDemetris Tyrologos of Scherzo Cafe is not a slave master in the American South of the early 19th century
On Saturday the 22nd of February the Union of Servers and Cooks (generally employees in the retail served food & beverage handling business) called a gathering with collaborating 1st degree horizontally organized unions, worker collectivities, and surrounding area assemblies/squats/social centers, about an attack on a union member employee at a bar/cafe called “Scherzo” in Marousi (a wealthy middle class suburb in the North part of Athens). The gathering  was initially called at the nearby metro station and once a significant number of people would gather they would all move outside the cafe. The calling was all internal for the members of the collectivities invited.  This would present little preparation for the owner and police to block the effectiveness of the demonstration.

The reason for this demonstration was that a long term employee who also happens to be an immigrant from Pakistan, has never been officially hired, is uninsured and his wage is only a fraction of the minimum legal wage. But this was not an issue of dispute between the boss (a young rich guy who is also an amateur, or should we say immature, boxer). The employee has been working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, doing everything the boss has been asking him to do.  He has even been asked to clean the bosses’ home, do the laundry, etc. For all this slave labor the man was getting paid 300euro a month, that is 10Euro a day, and less than 1 euro an hour, when the legal minimum is about 50% more and that is for 40hrs a week with overtime being paid at 50% over normal hourly rate. This has been a theoretical pay in the past couple of years when the IMF, EEC, and troika have severely pressured wages and working conditions.

None of this was a problem for the slave laborer, but recently the boss has been denying to pay him at all. After several polite requests for money the boss told him he is fired and he wouldn’t pay him a penny. The man not accepting this tough reality of working in 21st century slavemasters’ Greece, appealed to the SSM (servers/cooks union). They advised and supported him by appealing to the “labor inspectors agency” who called the owner at a tri-party meeting. At the meeting the owner came prepared with a lawyer, and scared of other employees testifying of the actual employment and extent of duties, he accepted all it was claimed and offered a date when the discontinued employee would go by the business to receive his final pay as claimed.  Members of the union were also at the meeting.

The worker visited the business on the date offered and the boss/manager/owner (and boxer) Demetris Tyrologos invited him in the back of the store where his office is and then became very provocative. The worker did not even get a chance to leave before the boss jumped on him and started hitting him like he was a boxing bag. Other people heard the screams and run to see what was going on finding the worker bleeding and on the ground. The worker was taken to a public hospital and was treated for three days before released. He of course was not and still is not paid.

As the union declares in one of their leaflets “In this era when capitalists declare a  «crisis» as an alibi, immigrants are the most underrated part of the working class, baring all the illness of a «host country in crisis». If not killed in Evros river (the natural border with Turkey), if not drown in Pharmakonisi (a recent attack on refugees by Coast Guard resulted in 12 deaths of which most were children and mothers), if not shot and killed in Manolada (an incident last year where land-owners shot their unpaid farm workers) they end up in sweatshops where class antagonisms and social – racial disparities create monstrous living and working conditions. Immigrants workers are doomed to work for the capitalist machine with ridiculously low wage , inhuman working hours , of course, without insurance, and with the permanent threat of dismissal, assault, imprisonment in inhumane concentration camps, and possible expulsion to sometimes countries they are political refugees from.”

After the first demonstration was successful with a couple of hundred people flooding the area surrounding the cafe, the boss with a few friends locked himself in the store, leaving the outside are unattended.  Eventually all of his customers left without being able to pay. Some private security (mafia type goons) came by trying to instigate something but were unable to confront hundreds of angry protesters and left without reaching their protected parties. Cops kept a distance with heavy machine guns trying to intimidate the protesters. Of course neither forms of repression were successful. Leaflets were distributed to passing by neighbors in a district that hosts one of the most active commercial centers around Athens. Many locals cheered and were clearly in support of the activity. Many commented that this is actually a form of syndicalism that would work, unlike the traditional bureaucratic syndicalism that has been widely accepted now as totally corrupt and absolutely ineffective.

An older couple said that if syndicalism was as direct as it was decades ago, the world we live in would be very different today. Some feel cheated after spending their whole life-time paying union-dues and being lied to. None of what they ever expected from their hierarchical union representatives ever materialized. Most are generally surprised to the point of disbelief that there are no permanent representatives (in the usual form of compromising agents), no middle men, no indirect communication and no leaders calling off the pressure.

In this respect the activity was very successful in utilizing the ground of a direct struggle for justice to inform the public in the kind of unionism people are now engaged in and that in most cases works for the side of the union member. Even if it is one person the importance of the struggle is as if it were thousands. One victory at the time they claim is the goal. “Solidarity is the weapon of the workers, war to the war of bosses” is a common slogan screamed. Other slogans heard were “in the world of bosses we are all foreigners”, “class hate, punches and kicks to every boss” etc.

The following Saturday, March 1st, the action was repeated.  As most business owners of similar shops were relieved with the departure the week before they became extremely uncomfortable to see that the demonstration would continue because one of their neighboring associates would continue to be a jerk. Most said that they would pressure him as well because they would go out of business themselves if this was to continue. None of which are really innocent in the way they treat their employees, but they may have not gone to the extreme of violent terrorism against them. They are also worried about their own employees now knowing where they would take their claims when mistreated and fired. The action was a virtual replication of the week before.  They were all caught by surprise and had to lock themselves in losing all the attending customers.

The third week, after assemblies met and evaluated the progress, another gathering and rally around the commercial center, with a public announcement was called for Saturday 8th at 12noon. More than 12 unions and local assemblies supported the event, thousands and thousands of fliers and leaflets were distributed. During the rally some attendees wrote labor and antifascist slogans on business fronts but directed only to banks, major chains, and especially gold/pawn shops that seem to have sprung up everywhere in Greece benefiting from the economic conditions of working class families who sell anything of value to pay bills at ridiculously low prices.

One of the slogans in the leaflets distributed read:


At the end of the rally 5 private cars were found parked outside the store on walkway were vehicles can’t legally drive on, to minimize the area people would gather, and a number of high ranking local cops were standing in front of them trying to avert the people from congregating in front of the business. After a few attempts to convey the message for them to depart (cops and cars) the demonstrators decided to go all around the area blocking any path to and from the business and because of the police plan, the adjacent business were affected as well. Within minutes both cops and cars decided to depart the scene and people congregated again in front of Scherzo where mr Demetris Tyrologos once again locked the doors and sat terrified inside looking out and calling on the phone for his goons to approach the business.  Luckily as they are by now identified they were unable to blend in and reach the store so they decided to stay away.

It should be noted that in neither of those three interventions violence, or any type of confrontation has ever taken place.  The pressure is generally mental and the continuity will surely have the effects of either paying the few hundreds of Euro owed or eventually shutting the business down and leaving the area. Demetris Tyrologos has clearly become very famous in the area and most residents now speak very negatively of him, his relations with the local mafia, and the police department that have covered his wrong doing for years. He is clearly unwanted and absolutely discredited to all with the exception of a handful of psychopath neo-nazi right wingers who think of him as a hero. Emphasis on thinking, as they are no longer willing to broadcast their dreaded ideas.

Unless accommodations are made by the business owner to satisfy the just and honest demands of the beaten employee this form of action will continue.

Relative articles in Greek and more photos: 1, 2, 3.

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