Aikaterini Michailidis and her husband
A tobacco worker remembers: "When I was
Alexandros write to their cousin: "As you
10 years old, I was sent to work in a
know, handmade cigarettes appeared in
tobacco factory. In the high-rise factories
1885. Since 1915 machines produce up to
worked more than 1,000 people in low-
200,000 cigarettes per day replacing about
ceiling workspaces. To keep the leaves soft
100 workers. That is why cigarette makers*
the windows opened rarely. Each floor had
had to look for other jobs. In 1922 we
only one toilet. All day long I transferred
bought a factory in Drama, at the springs of
tobacco boxes and gave the women water to
Aghia Varvara, to process tobacco. The
drink. At noon I ran home to eat something
internal spaces are standardized in all
and then again back to the factory until late
factories. The first floors host the
in the evening. Money did not mean
unprocessed tobacco. The workers make
anything to me. I gave it to my mother.
sure it does not rot or mold. Then they carry
Each time the controllers came, the women
the bales to the upper floors to be
put me into a tobacco box. You see, it was
processed during daylight. Women sort the
illegal for children to work. One day I could
tobacco according to quality while men take
not breathe in the box. I started screaming
care of all other stages. Tobacco factories
and kicking until they let me out. I did not
are now the main employers of the
go to school, neither learned a craft."*
refugees** who arrive in Greece."
*The changes in production render obsolete the profession of cigarette
*K. Bada, Female Tobacco Workers, 2006.
makers after 1919; tobacco workers are not affected.
**1,500,000 refugees arrive in Greece in 1922 as a result of the
Greek-Turkish War (1919-1922).