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Athens Olympic Village Worker Dies

July 16, 2002

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ Olympic Village officials demanded that construction companies bolster safety measures or face legal consequences after a fourth worker was killed in an accident on the building site.

About 1,500 workers at the village called a 48-hour strike after a 32-year-old Romanian man was killed on Monday after falling off a crane. He was the fourth construction worker to die on the site this year.

There have been complaints that construction companies have not been taking adequate safety measures in their effort to make up for construction delays at the village, to house 17,300 athletes and Olympic officials.

The Olympic Village is one of the few construction projects for the 2004 Games that is ahead of schedule, and has been showcased by organizers as an example of how Athens has made up for years of lost time. The government has been working overtime to make up for delays that threatened to derail the Olympics.

Greece’s largest labor union, or GSEE, condemned what it described as the ``indifference″ to safety shown by contractors and said it was supporting the strike.

``GSEE denounces this unacceptable situation that costs human lives, especially at a project that concerns the Olympic Games,″ the union said in a statement.

Four Greek construction companies are building the village’s residential area and they been promised bonuses of more than $12,000 for every section that is completed ahead of schedule. A state-run company, Olympic Village 2004 AE, is overseeing the construction.

Representatives for workers have repeatedly complained of poor conditions, including a lack of drinking water, toilets and a general lack of oversight by officials. Some workers have complained they have no contracts, overtime pay or benefits.

In a letter to company inspectors on the building site, the general manager of Olympic Village 2004 AE said there was ``insufficient″ implementation of safety measures.

``An investigation of the serious accidents until now have shown that beyond the human factor they are particularly due to ... insufficient application of the required measures and safety regulations,″ Constantinos Lazarides said in his letter.

He added that efforts by contractors to prevent such accidents are ``deemed inadequate,″ and authorized company inspectors to take action _ including lawsuits _ to ensure safety measures are implemented.

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