Greek pharmacists, doctors go on strike
ATHENS- Agence France-Presse
A woman walks pass a shut pharmacy in central Athens at the start of a rolling 48-hour strike yesterday. State hospitals are only treating emergency cases. AFP photoGreek pharmacists and doctors yesterday kicked off a week of labor action against cost-cutting measures and liberalization moves pursued by the government. Most pharmacies were to shut until today in opposition to a state attempt to further cut their profit margins to 15 percent, from 18 percent.
State hospitals were only treating emergency cases until Thursday to pressure the government to abandon plans for additional wage cuts, which are part of ongoing salary reductions in the broader Greek public sector.
The association of Greek doctors has also called its members to a nationwide walkout, barring emergencies, in protest against health sector spending cuts and a disputed organizational overhaul.
Health professionals say they are obliged to sign new contracts with a new state health organization, EOPPYY, that began operation yesterday to streamline and improve management of the main social security funds. But there is already a backlog of millions of euros in unpaid state bills for medicine, medical supplies and equipment.
“We are no longer able to operate our pharmacies,” Theodore Abatzoglou, head of the association of Greek pharmacists, told state television NET. “We have unpaid bills worth 400 million euros at a time when banks have closed access to loans.”