He was born and raised on a small island, Skyros, which rises like a rock in the central-northern Aegean Sea with 3000 inhabitants. Most of the inhabitants were shepherds, the rest fishermen and farmers. He lived in Skyros from his birth in 1950 until he was 16 years old. Both of his parents were shepherds like all his ancestors. They lived in the mountains and pastures taking care of their animals.
In 1966 he immigrated to Athens. He completed his secondary education at the municipality of Agioi Anargyroi. In Athens, his first job was as an agricultural worker in the “Ponirakis” greenhouses while he was still a student. While he was an evening student at the “Omiros” technical school in N. Ionia, he worked for a short time as a loader at the shipyards of the port city Skaramagas and at the “Anoxal” metal factory. He then worked in the textile industry in large factories, such as the German company “Hudson” from which he was dismissed for his trade union activity; then to “Klostiria Attikis” from where he was also fired for political reasons as well as to smaller textile factories in Athens. He worked as a commercial employee for four years in a central commercial store in Athens, then in Thessaloniki and Larissa; for 11 years he worked in a large company of tractors and agricultural machinery, while during the same period, as a worker student, he studied at the Faculty of Law of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
His political and trade union activity began during the time of the dictatorship in Greece (1967-1974). He started from the base, elected by grassroot Committees within workplaces to rise step by step to the highest positions of responsibility. This endowed him with the experience and knowledge that comes from direct, daily contact with ordinary workers and their problems. In 1976, he was elected to the leadership of the Athens Private Employees’ Union and later became President of the Union. In 1982, he was elected Organizational Secretary of the Athens Departmental Union of Trade Unions which was and is the largest Departmental Union in Greece. In the period 1984-1985, he was Vice President of the Committee of Union Notebooks. In the period 1992-2010, he was a member of the administration of the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) as well as its General Secretary in the years 1993-1998. He was President for ten years of the Institute for the Study of Greek Trade Union History (ARISTOS).
He led All-Workers’ Militant Front of Greece (PAME) from its foundation in 1999 until 2007. He was Vice President of the WFTU (2000-2005) and then its Secretary General (2005-2022). The delegates of the 18th World Trade Union Congress, held in May 2022, in Rome, as a sign of honor for his contribution, declared him Honorary President of the WFTU.
In the period 2005-2012 he was elected Member of the Greek Parliament with the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).
For his political and union activity, he was persecuted by the employers and by the bourgeois state. He was arrested several times by the police, judged by bourgeois courts. In total, he was fired 6 times. In 2018, when he was the permanent representative of the WFTU to the UN, the US State Department and its embassy in Athens banned him from entering the United States, calling him a danger to the country.
Throughout his path, he never lost constant contact with his roots and his island.
His international activity began in 1976, with his visit to Sofia, People’s Republic of Bulgaria, at the TUI of Agroalimentary, Food, Commerce & Allied Industries Unions. It was his first contact and his first meeting with the WFTU.
In 1982-1985 he was a member of the European Social Fund in Brussels on behalf of the GSEE.
In 1983, he participated in a three-month WFTU trade union seminar in Budapest, People’s Republic of Hungary.
In the period 1985-1986 he studied at the School of Social and Political Sciences in Moscow, USSR.
In the years 2006-2022, he was accredited permanent representative of the WFTU to the UN, in New York and to the ILO, in Geneva, where he addressed the annual Plenary Session sixteen times.
He was co-organizer of the World Trade Union Forum in Beijing during the period 2006-2011.
He has visited, as a leader of the WFTU, 87 countries from all continents. He has been a keynote speaker at 120 international forums and international initiatives.
He has received very important state awards in Cuba, Vietnam, South Africa, Venezuela, Syria, Palestine, Sudan and has received numerous awards from major trade unions and social organizations around the world.
He has met dozens of important prime ministers and state presidents.
He speaks English, Greek and Russian.