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.
    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

    Beijing Warns Critics Over South China Sea Dispute

    Official warns critics that the more they challenge China's position regarding disputed territories in one of world’s busiest waterways, the more it will push back

    Will New Russian Force Be 'Putin’s Personal Army'?

    With broad powers to control riots, suppress dissent, National Guard may be aimed at sending a message to West as much as keeping peace at home

    Foreign Media in Pyongyang Barred From North Korean Party Congress

    Hundreds of international journalists invited to cover historic party meeting barred from entering actual event

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020i
    X
    Ramon Taylor
    May 05, 2016 10:05 PM
    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020

    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Child Labor in Afghanistan Remains a Problem

    With war still raging in Afghanistan, the country also faces the problem of child labor as families put their school-age children to work to help make ends meet. But, thanks to VOA's Afghan Service, two families whose children had been working in a brick-making factory - to earn their livings and pay off family debts - now have a new lease on life. Zabihullah Ghazi reports.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora