It was in the early 1920s when the area of Perama became, for the refugees of Istanbul and the Black Sea, the place where they would start their new life. The refugee settlement was soon created and the first shipyards appeared in the year 1928.
Since then, life in Perama is inextricably linked to the activity of the ship-building and repair zone. The majority of the local residents works in the shipyards, in careenages and arsenals; life and work are moving (coexist) on a parallel track.
The financial crisis that erupted in Greece could not leave the shipbuilding zone of Perama untouched. Indicative of this condition is the fact that, today, unemployment in that region reaches up to 90%, while more than 5000 skilled workers were employed there until 2009.
“Some years before we used to get paid very well, now I’m lucky that I still work”, Mr. Christos tells me, not losing his smile nonetheless. “Work is tough and its conditions are difficult, especially for those working in the ships’ holds”.
There, the rolling mill operators, despite the vents that they place, face the lack of oxygen, the toxic fumes (created by the melting of rusty metals), as well as the extremely high temperatures caused by iron plate welding.
In the ship’s hold, the feeling of fresh air may give the impression that conditions are ideal. However, a ship in a repair situation can only be far from safe. Big and small metal pieces, metal tubes, tools scattered on the floor and workers’ voices take care to remind you exactly where you are.
Repairs may take up to two months and start with hoisting the ship ashore. This is a time-consuming and extremely dangerous process that requires great caution and expertise to manage it all safely. Purification through water jetting, coloring and rolling mill procedures play a key role in the work cycle concerning the repair of the ship. A cycle that repeats itself every time that a ship ties up at the shipyard’s dock.