Hospital doctors and judges walk off the job

Hospital doctors launched go-slow action Monday, saying they would only deal with emergency cases in a bid to underline their discontent with ongoing austerity and demand the payment of six months in unpaid salaries. The head of the national union representing hospital doctors, Dimitris Varnavas, told Kathimerini that the participation in the action was very high as medics are exasperated at seemingly endless state cutbacks. “In some hospitals, participation in the action has hit 100 percent,” he said.

Health Ministry officials insisted that they have given the order for the outstanding wages to be paid to doctors and attributed the delay to “the inability of other parts of the civil service to respond adequately.” Varnavas countered that the ministry is shirking its responsibilities.

Meanwhile pharmacists across Greece -- with the exception of Attica -- started giving medicines on credit to patients insured with the National Organization for Healthcare Provision (EOPYY). The pharmacists, who had stopped giving out drugs on credit to protest the nonpayment of dues from the state, decided to suspend their protest action on Saturday after the government reassured them that the debts would be paid off gradually up until the end of the year. Patients in greater Athens must continue to pay for medicines from their pockets, however, until pharmacists in Attica decide whether to continue with their industrial action. Their union is to meet Tuesday.

There was upheaval in other sectors too, ahead of next Wednesday’s general strike. The country’s judges and prosecutors started their own industrial action Monday, working for an hour in the morning before walking off the job to protest planned cuts to their salaries of up to 35 percent. The judges, whom the Constitution forbids from holding full strike action, are to continue their action through Friday, demanding that the government retract the planned cutbacks.


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