Greek Plantation foremen open fire on migrant workers
At least 28 workers injured in incident while demanding backpay
Bangladeshi worker Mohamed, 25, is helped by colleagues into a tent in the southwestern Greek town of Manolada yesterday following a shooting incident on Wednesday evening. Photographs: Giorgos Moutafis/Reuters
Police in Greece are searching for three strawberry plantation foremen who opened fire on a crowd of about 200 migrant workers, mostly Bangladeshis, who were demanding at least six months’ back pay.
At least 28 workers were injured in the incident, which occurred on Wednesday evening in Manolada, an eastern Peloponnesian town that has achieved notoriety in recent years for its brutal treatment of migrant farmhands.
Seven of the men remained in hospital last night, but police said none were in a critical condition.
Police said that following an argument with the workers, the foremen, Greek nationals aged 21, 27 and 39, left the scene, returned armed with two shotguns and a handgun and suddenly opened fire on the workers.
Five used and five full shotgun cartridges were recovered from the scene.
In footage recorded shortly after the shooting and subsequently uploaded to YouTube, dozens of men are seen lying motionless on a road, some with bloodied legs, amid chaotic scenes as their compatriots and an ambulance crew attend to them.
The 57-year-old owner of the strawberry plantation that employed the workers was arrested on the same evening, while police detained two men yesterday morning for harbouring the fugitive foremen.
One of the migrants involved in the incident told Greek television they had been promised daily wages of €22. According to reports, some men were owed €1,000 each.
“They keep telling us that we will get paid in a month, and this has been going on for more than a year,” said the unidentified worker.
“We don’t talk about it because we are afraid that we will be killed or kicked out.”
According to reports, most, but not all, of the workers possess work permits.
It is the latest incident in a town famed for its strawberries – and known for the abuse meted out to migrant workers by farmers, who act with near impunity.