News / Europe

Greek Health, Civil Workers Protest Cutbacks

Employees of Greece's health system shout slogans as the banner reads ''Government'' during a protest against government health cuts in Athens, April 17, 2013. Employees of Greece's health system shout slogans as the banner reads ''Government'' during a protest against government health cuts in Athens, April 17, 2013.
x
Employees of Greece's health system shout slogans as the banner reads ''Government'' during a protest against government health cuts in Athens, April 17, 2013.
Employees of Greece's health system shout slogans as the banner reads ''Government'' during a protest against government health cuts in Athens, April 17, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Workers in health care walked off the job on Wednesday leaving hospitals with skeleton staff to protest the problems the sector is facing following government cutbacks, while civil servants also took to the streets over dismissals.

Doctors, nurses, hospital staff and ambulance drivers participated in the action outside the Ministry of Health.

The health sector has faced many difficulties since the government began its program to reform the economy in 2010. There have been supply and drug shortages in hospitals, cuts to staff wages, overtime pay, and jobs, resulting in understaffing, and hospitals have been shut down. Hospitals have been flooded with new unemployed who have lost their health care insurance and cannot pay for health care.

"What I am afraid of is the tsunami of poor and homeless people who flood the hospital clinics every night, and you don't have enough time to treat them," said nurse Zoe Florou. "And most of all, they don't have free medical care...It is unacceptable and I cannot accept the idea that a person cannot have free medical care. Don't they understand that this is an issue of human survival?'' 

The President of the Greek Hospital Workers Federation Stavros Koutsioubelis said that surgeries had to be cancelled. "We cannot operate, because the hospitals don't have money, they don't have supplies. Suppliers are not stocking hospitals any more. It is a vicious circle that we are fighting if we try and surpass the crisis by using state funds to support the health system,'' Koutsioubelis said.

The government has said the health care system was riddled with bloated costs and corruption, as it reduces state spending to trim the debt.

The main civil servants union of Greece, the Confederation of Civil Servants also staged a work stoppage and joined the demonstration of hospital workers, after the government announced plans to fire 15,000 civil servants by next year as part of a reform program that was approved by the troika on Monday. It will then instead hire young, educated Greeks into the civil service in an attempt to reduce the high unemployment rate among youth. In total, it must have cut 150,000 jobs in the civil service between 2010 and 2015.

Firing civil servants is a highly controversial issue in the Mediterranean country as politicians historically used jobs in the civil service for votes and were until now hesitant to fire them.

The civil service, which numbers over 700,000 employees, has been criticized for becoming bloated with workers, inefficient, corrupt, and costly. It has drawn heavy criticism from the private sector, where unemployment has been increasing amidst the crisis while public servants have been untouched.

Greece received a clean bill of health from the 'troika' - inspectors of its international creditors of the European Union and International Monetary Fund, on Monday, paving the way for more financial aid, after the coalition government agreed to the dismissals and showed the country was following through on reforms to clean up the economy.

Unemployment has hit a record high of 27.2 percent, but recent polls show that most Greeks want the reform of the public sector and its services.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid