Retired dock worker Dimitris, 82, drives a scooter decorated with flowers, Greek flags and newspaper clippings in the depressed Perama area, on the fringes of Athens' port of Piraeus, Monday, Feb. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
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Wages were good and jobs plentiful.This town of 30,000 people exhibits some of its worst symptoms.Unemployment is 45 percent, far above the nationwide rate of 28 percent, itself a record figure, according to the latest figures released Thursday.Now, most say, only government aid can save the town.Androniki Karamanli, a mother of two whose husband has been unemployed since 2010, has a five-month contract to work at a soup kitchen – her first job in 18 months.Nikos Palaioudis, who owns Perama's Nafsi Shipyards, the country's fourth-largest, said the government, businesses and unions were all to blame for keeping the industry uncompetitive. Greek labor costs are about 30 euros an hour, compared with 5 euros in neighboring Turkey.Palaioudis appealed for government support "even for the first and last time," in the form of incentives and foregoing privatization of the Perama docks. He said the nearby Skaramangas yards, which had been feeding business to Perama until it was shut, should be reopened with government aid.
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