Greek hospital stoppage

Dromokaiteio Hospital workers at last Thursday's Athens march. They kept on chanting ‘Down with the junta of Mitsotakis!’ throughout the demonstration. Banner reads, ‘No lives are saved with false tears – Permanent jobs for hospital workers’ 

GREEK state hospitals workers and doctors are fighting back against a government vaccination law which has led to unpaid ‘suspension from work’ of some 3,800 workers.

These are workers who have not as yet been vaccinated or have refused, as a form of protest, to present to the hospitals’ directors their vaccination certificates.

The right-wing Greek government of Prime Minister K Mitsotakis last Monday appointed Thanos Plevris, a past leading member of fascist groups, as the new Health Minister to carry out mass sackings and close down hospitals as promised by Mitsotakis last month.

Plevris’ first act was to introduce a proposal to the Vouli (Greek parliament) which would allow the privatisation of several hospital functions.

Plevris has announced that temporary contract workers, at low pay rates and without full rights, would be hired to replace those hospital workers who are being ‘suspended’ until they produce vaccination certificates.

Meanwhile, Covid-19 is spreading rapidly in Greece, with ever-increasing cases and deaths, since the government throughout the pandemic has refused to enforce proper protection measures for workers in the tourist industries. In fact, the government has reduced the funding of the National Health Service (ESI).

The hospital workers’ trade union federation POEDIN all this week organised hospital meetings and called, however timidly, for each hospital trade union to occupy offices. Several offices at hospitals throughout Greece have been occupied.

On Thursday, POEDIN called a national 5-hour stoppage of all hospital workers. A militant rally was held outside the Health Ministry building in Athens with over 2,000 hospital workers participating from all Athens and Piraeus hospitals.

Workers shouted rhymed slogans against Plevris and Mitsotakis and in a tribute to renowned composer Mikis Theodorakis, who died early on Thursday, they sang verses from his songs of workers’ struggle.

Workers then formed a militant march to the Vouli. During the march workers of the Dromokaiteio Hospital started chanting ‘Down with the junta of Mitsotakis’ and ‘Mitsotakis resign’. The slogans were taken up by the whole march and eclipsed the simple protest slogans coming from the official POEDIN and from the left trade unionists’ loud-hailers.