The cleaning staff of the Finance Ministry have been placed in the so-called ‘mobility scheme’ since September the 18th and are due to be laid off in ten days.

While many other public employees have faced a similar fate, few groups have been as doggedly persistent in reminding the leadership of the Finance Ministry and Troika representatives that behind the positions that are being struck off at the stroke of a pen are real people with real lives. Every day as they show up for work early in the morning, the cleaners have been there waiting for them with chants and protests.

In all 595 cleaning staff are facing dismissal, with their services to be replaced by private contractors. Their dismissal is seen by many as particularly egregious given that they receive among the lowest pays among state workers, earning only a few hundred euros a month. Indeed it will cost more to the state overall to replace their services with contracted private cleaners, yet the ministry has stubbornly refused to reconsider their case, desperate to meet troika mandated targets of public sector layoffs. Many of the low-income women face the prospect of poverty with few hopes for new jobs in a country with 27% unemployment. Such is the price of ‘reform’.

The cleaners’ protests have even been met with violence with riot police sending several women to the hospital in an incident in March.

Yet the cleaners have doggedly refused to back down and with the deadline for their dismissal approaching will be camped out in front of the Ministry. They may still lose their only source of income, but they will not go quietly.