Konstantina Kuneva, attacked with sulfuric acid

The collective rage triggered by the cold-blooded murder of Alexis Grigoropoulos, on the night of 6 December 2008, mainly targeted symbols of global capitalism and State terrorism. Young immigrants were among the people arrested during riots in the streets. Hundreds of those detained have suffered police torture. The university asylum was repeatedly revoked. Political resistance had to survive the mass propaganda and State’s violence across Greece. Many unions have supported the uprising and called for strikes and demonstrations. Meanwhile, the mainstream media, the political parties, the Church, businessmen and craft union bosses ridiculed the social explosion, trying to present the causeless assassination of a teenager as the result of a bullet getting redirected.

The time chosen for another murderous attack was not coincidental. In this pretext, any attack – even a murderous one – was almost doomed to be lost in everyday news. On the night of 23 December 2008 Konstantina Kuneva, a Bulgarian unionist, was attacked in upper district of Petralona, Athens. Neighbours that hadn’t met her immediately devoted all their efforts to support her and inform other people about the incident.

Kuneva, a migrant worker in Athens and secretary of Panattic Union of Cleaners and Domestic Personnel (PEKOP), was attacked with sulfuric acid in front of her home by two men as she was returning from work. She was admitted to ‘Evangelismos’ Hospital in a critical condition. She had severe burns on her face, head, hands and back. She remained in the intensive care ward for months, suffering serious sight and respiratory system problems. She had to undergo at least seven surgical procedures to merely recover.

The events before the attack and the testimonies of her fellow unionists and workers show clearly this was a revengeful act of punishing Kuneva for her active involvement in PEKOP. As severely underpaid and unprotected migrant worker, she had decided to join a union in order to struggle against the inhuman conditions imposed to her and her fellow workers; her bosses assaulted her, possibly hiring mafia people (in any case, with a medieval method which aimed to serve as an example and terrorize her and fellow fighters).

Α massive social movement in solidarity with Kuneva and her family was built from scratch, starting at 27 December 2008 when the headquarters of ISAP (Athens Piraeus Electric Railway) were occupied as a first response to the well-planned attempted murder by IKOMET employers. IKOMET is a cleaning company with enterprises all over Greece, owned by Nikitas Oikonomakis, a member of PASOK, the Greek ‘Socialist’ Party which forms the current government. IKOMET has been assigned as a contractor the cleaning of ISAP, as well as the cleaning of other public corporations. All along, ISAP has been an accomplice in maintaining a regime of crude exploitation of cleaners, despite repeated denouncements by PEKOP.

The target was not coincidental. Female, immigrant, militant union organizer, mother of an underage child, Kuneva was the most vulnerable for the bosses. The attack on Konstantina is also related with the racist pogroms, the concentration camps for immigrants, the attacks by thugs working for the State, the workplace ‘accidents’, all the people murdered by the State, the working conditions that resemble galleys. The everyday terror of bosses targets individuals and unions that resist the wage slavery; it shows the long way ahead for the social and class struggle.

On 11 March 2010 thousands of striking workers took to the Greek streets against austerity measures. People of all ages marched enraged at the ‘democratic’ system that has been failing for decades. Struggling for all those in need of solidarity, building a strong social movement, fighting fascism and labour slavery represent today’s uprising, which cannot be seen as an isolated event in recent Greek history, and cannot be cast off as a direct result of the economic collapse; its character lies within the context of the massive protests that took place in 1985, 1991, 1995, 1998, 2003, 2008, 2009…