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

Yemen Brings US, Iran Closer to Naval Face-off

US sending two more ships to waters off coast of Yemen to take part in 'maritime security operations' More

Minorities Become Majority Across US

From 2000 to 2013, minorities became the majority in 78 counties in the United States. Here's where those demographic shifts are happening More

Japan's Maglev Train Breaks Own Speed Record

Seven-car 'magnetic levitation' train traveled at more than 600 kilometers per hour during test run Tuesday More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs