Help Wanted: Room, Board – No Pay

With a record unemployment rate and austerity measures crushing the livelihoods of many Greeks, a hotel on the island of Aigina is hoping that its offer of a free room and food – but no pay – for a chambermaid will attract the desperate, but the ad has been slammed by labor unions and trade associations as despicable.

A hotelier on the Argosaronic island of Aigina listed an ad in local newspapers which stated it was seeking a chambermaid “for voluntary work …in exchange for lodgings and food,” provoking angry reaction from tourism sector associations who said the business was trying to exploit people who are frantic to find work, even at the cost of not being paid.

The General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE) described the advert as “unacceptable” and a “dangerous strategy” and called on employees to immediately report similar cases to the country’s labor inspectorate. “In the Greece of crisis, unemployment and unbearable taxes, such behavior by employers should not go unpunished,” GSEE’s statement said.

“In the Greece of the crisis, of unemployment, of unsustainable taxes, this type of behaviour by employers must not go unpunished,” GSEE added.

“While this case may be an extreme example, it provides us with a clear picture of where a situation can lead to when, according to the latest figures, four in ten workers are uninsured,” the statement continued, calling on the Labour Ministry to reinstate recently abolished worker rights that were eliminated on orders of international lenders who want to drive down salaries as well.

The Chairman of Aegina’s hoteliers’ association condemned the advert as “provocative” for all his colleagues and the island.  Speaking on Mega TV, Stavros Kalamakis said that the hotel in question did not reflect the union of hoteliers and its owner was not a member.

He said the hotel was being run by “an exploiter, who has leased it for the past two years. These professionals are denigrating the efforts we have made in this difficult period to restrain our customer base and at the same time to expand.”

While the hotel didn’t identify itself, EnetEngish said the contact numbers provided with the classified, the older one of which has been viewed almost 3,500 times, matches those of the 24-bed Hotel Artemis, which describes itself as a family-owned business located 100 meters from Aegina’s famous seafront.

It’s common in Greece for some jobs, such as live-in caretakers looking over the elderly and ill to receive room and board, but they are also paid, although labor groups said they are frequently not compensated anywhere near what they deserve as the lack of jobs has forced many to take work under conditions that exploit them.