Greek cleaners fighting back against austerity

13th of January 2015
Greek cleaners fighting back against austerity

A 53-year-old cleaning lady in Greece has become a figurehead for a nation fed up with austerity.

Since Despoina Kostopoulou became one of almost 600 cleaning ladies sacked by the Greek Finance ministry on a cost-cutting drive in 2013, she has terrorised not only her own government, but also the bureaucrats from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union with their draconian rules on Greek public spending.

"They came after cleaners with very small salaries and families, forgetting we are women, we are mothers, and if you mess with us we can become like the harpies in the ancient Greek legends," she said, standing on a picket line outside the Finance ministry with her daughter Maria. "I never thought that a rubber cleaning glove could become such a symbol of struggle but it has."

The angry cleaning ladies have become a symbol for millions of Greeks ahead of a snap general election next month that could bring Syriza, a far-Left party that has pledged to dump the austerity plans, to power. On posters around Athens, they are seen with brooms in hand, sweeping away penny-pinching officials.






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