On Thursday, January 28, health workers mobilized in hospitals across Greece as part of the national day of action to demand more staff and resources to effectively fight the raging pandemic. Professionals under the leadership of the Federation of Associations of Hospital Doctors of Greece (OENGE) were among those who took part in the national day of action. Mobilizations took place at hospitals in Athens, Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Trikala, and other cities. Health workers also demanded a substantial increase in their salaries and pensions by reversing the cuts introduced in 2012 due to the economic crisis.
The OENGE said on Thursday that the New Democracy (ND)-led government cannot cover up its criminal irresponsibility in mismanaging the pandemic. “The doctors and other health workers are working in miserable conditions which intensify our physical and mental exhaustion. Instead of hiring doctors, nurses and all the necessary permanent staff to shield our public health, the system has turned us into a touring troupe to be transported from one clinic to another, from one hospital to another, from one city to another,” OENGE said.
The protesting workers have also demanded mass recruitment of permanent staff, adequate state funding, cementing emergency procedures, and more support to health centers for undertaking vaccinations. The workers called for the utilization of all available safe vaccines for timely mass vaccination of the population, and ensuring safety at work, schools and public transport. At the same time, enlisting private health units and including them in the state plan for dealing with the epidemic was advocated. Recording of COVID-19 infections among health workers at work as an occupational disease, and a substantial increase in salaries and pensions were also among the major demands.
Health workers have given a call for a day of action for Primary Health Centers (PHC) on February 3 to highlight the acute problems of primary care and the urgent need to strengthen it. A 24-hour nationwide strike with a rally at the health ministry and a march to the parliament are also scheduled for February 16. Last year as well, Greek health workers staged several demonstrations demanding more staff and resources to fight the pandemic.
As of January 28, around 154,796 COVID-19 infections had been reported in Greece with 5,742 deaths.