EKA demands additional measures for earthquake victims
In view of the powerful earthquake that struck Athens on 7 September 1999, the Athens Labour Centre (EKA) has asked the government to take immediate steps to provide relief for victims' families as well as the homeless.
On 9 September 1999, the Athens Labour Centre (EKA) addressed a letter to the Prime Minister, Kostas Simitis, the Minister of Labour and Social Security and the Minister of Health, in which it proposed that the government take immediate additional measures to provide effective relief for people afflicted by the earthquake which had struck Athens two days previously. In particular, EKA called for:
- a ministerial decision designating earthquake victims as victims of industrial accidents, with regard both to fatalities and to injuries leading to disability. According to current regulations, if they are not designated as victims of industrial accidents, these people must necessarily meet specific insurance conditions in order to be entitled to various rights regarding both to their insurance and their housing contributions under the programmes of the Workers' Housing Organisation (OEK);
- a supplementary grant of GRD 1 million to victims' families, to meet part of their financial needs until they receive pensions;
- a waiver of existing conditions for the inclusion on unemployment registers of people whose places of employment were destroyed as a result of the earthquake. There should also be promotion of employment for at least one member of the family of each worker employed by a business destroyed in the earthquake;
- payment by OEK of a rent allowance to people classed as workers or employees whose homes were demolished or have been marked for demolition. This allowance, along with the benefit which the Greek state has already announced it will pay, must defray the whole amount of rent paid, because in cases where homes were totally destroyed people will have to set up housekeeping again from scratch;
- the announcement and immediate implementation of a housing programme for earthquake victims in cooperation with OEK. EU funding must also be sought;
- inspection of all premises of enterprises in affected areas to determine whether they meet health and safety requirements, with particular emphasis on safety, so as to avoid similar occurrences in the event of new earthquakes or floods, in view of the fact that the weight-bearing structures of such buildings have been weakened, particularly after the recent earthquake;
- effective recognition of the extraordinary contribution to dealing with the earthquake by members of the special fire brigade force (EMAK) rescue unit and the fire brigade, by meeting their demands to cover the cost of basic, immediate needs;
- immediate repairs to buildings which house branches of the Social Insurance Foundation (IKA) and other public services, as well as to municipal buildings in the areas hit by the earthquake, so that they may resume service to residents of these areas as soon as possible; and
- creation of a coordinating body, in which participation by EKA and by local government is deemed necessary, in order to monitor implementation of the measures announced and intervene to overcome any obstacles which may arise during the implementation stage.
EKA has stated that, since its proposals are realistic, it is awaiting their acceptance and immediate implementation by the government.