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Hostility Towards Census Workers in Greece Leads to Mass Resignations

Greek census
Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) headquarters. Credit: AMNA

The Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) is currently conducting the 2021 Census of the Greek population. Citizens’ hostility has led to mass resignations of census workers.

In Patras, the capital of the Prefecture of Achaia, and one of Greece’s most populous cities, 500 of the 700 census workers have resigned their posts.

Hostility Leads to Census Workers Resignations

Nikos Mourtzouchos, the Head of the Achaia Statistical Authority, speaking to the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) said: “We are facing many difficulties, people are refusing not only  to participate in the census, but they are also refusing to even listen to the census workers.”

The hostility and rudeness have resulted in mass resignations of census workers, who are not prepared or able to respond to the situation.

ELSTAT conducts a Population-Housing Census of the Greek population every ten years. This is an activity undertaken by all European Union Member States every ten years and follows uniform standards and methods.

The 2021 Greek Census began in October 2021 and is set to end in December 2021. This operation is described as the largest conducted by the State in times of peace.

States use the census to collect updated data on the demographic, economic, and social characteristics of the population and to evaluate population size increase and decrease. The 2011 Census showed that Greece’s population decreased by one million people.

Mourtzouchos went on to explain: “People slam the door in the census workers’ faces. Some of these individuals will then call [ELSTAT] offices asking about the census and request to provide them with a way to participate in the census on their own.”

ELSTAT leadership also believes that it is possible that the media hyped the salaries of census workers, suggesting that it could reach as much as 1,200 Euro a month, which was an inaccurate sum. In the face of turbulent interactions and low wages, workers choose to quit.

Kathimerini featured an interview with a former census worker, who requested to remain anonymous. “I completely understand the fear people feel, opening the door to strangers, even if they are aware of the ongoing census because maybe they are not who they say they are. But what I will never excuse, for any reason, is rudeness.”

This consistent refusal to participate and even answer questions is causing major delays to the census process, which is a vital part of the State’s functioning.

Importance of the Census

The 2011 Census, for example, led to an ELSTAT report that breaks down housing amenities, the general at-home practices of the Greek population and even access to the internet and other vital services.

This report also allows the Greek state to compare the national average to those of other fellow European Union Member States, but most importantly, it allows the state to compare access to services and demographic breakdowns between domestic municipalities and prefectures.

The Census, as a process, is vital to a nation such as Greece, which has a large diaspora. In 2016, the Australian Census showed a drop in Greek language speaking in the country.

In the United States, many Hellenic organizations communicated to the Greek-American community the importance of participating in the Census and identifying themselves as Greek.

ELSTAT moves forward with its efforts to complete the 2021 Census despite the mass resignations and other obstacles. According to the Athens Macedonia News Agency (AMNA), there are a total of 60,000 census workers, who bring with them their ID and an ELSTAT badge, which includes all their personal information.

The transparency and identification are used in hopes that they instill trust in their fellow citizens and timely completion of the census work.

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