Even in the companies that are still running, salaries have been reduced, workers are asked to take unpaid leave and people have been laid off in droves.
At the ceramics company, security guard Jelaletin Topour is one of three people looking after an idle factory that was once considered one of the most modern in Europe. "We stopped working three years ago, they told us we would do maintenance but since then the machines haven't been restarted," he said. "I'm here and waiting. It's not possible for such a factory with high technology to stay closed."
The ceramics factory still nominally employs 60 of the 140 workers it used to have — but they haven't been paid and therefore have stopped working until they are given their salaries. Topour hopes an investor will be found to save the plant.
"The only thing I can do is hope. I have two sons, one is 27 and the other 22," he said. "They both made it into university, but neither actually went to study. We just couldn't afford it."
The crisis in the area took a tragic turn in March in a nearby plastics factory which makes trash bins and other plastic products and employs about 85 people. A former employee, who had been laid off six months earlier turned up at the plant with a shotgun. He shot and wounded the company's chairman and another employee and took two others hostage for 12 hours before police persuaded him to surrender.
"We condemn this incident," Magalios, the Komotini labor center head, said at the time. "But ... we have to think about what put the gun in this man's hand.
"What made him reach this point? Unemployment, which is on the rise, and a cut in wages. These are problems we will continue to be confronted with."
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