Greek Doctors Sue Over Pay Cuts

Following other workers who got courts to reverse pay cuts as unconstitutional, Greek doctors say they will sue to overturn slashed salaries.

ATHENS – Following other workers who got courts to reverse austerity-driven pay cuts as unconstitutional, Greek doctors say they will sue to overturn slashed salaries.

The union representing doctors at public hospitals in Athens and Piraeus (EINAP) briefed institutions across Attica on its decision to coordinate with the union representing doctors at state hospitals elsewhere in Greece (OENGE) in submitting collective appeals against the cuts.

OENGE President Dimitris Varnavas told Kathimerini that a total of 45 appeals from local unions across the country have been gathered and are to be submitted to administrative courts within the next 10 days.

The appeals are to go to the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, which recently upheld similar appeals by the country’s police and armed forces employees – which Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said he would obey. It is expected that the appeals will be heard in the fall.

But the court’s ruling that cuts to pension lump sums is unconstitutional has been ignored and the government has suggested the judiciary has no right to interfere with pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings imposed on orders of the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB).

The doctors hope court ruling in favor of the police and military staff will act as a legal precedent, leading to cuts to their salaries being deemed unconstitutional too.

Besides often being unpaid for months, they claim to have suffered sharper reductions, up to 40 percent in some cases which many doctors paid less than half what cleaning ladies in get in Parliament, where workers are protected against austerity because they said they would otherwise strike and shut down the government.

Doctors joined civil servants from other sectors in protesting an evaluation scheme for public sector staff in central Athens on July 22nd.

Some burned evaluation forms outside the Health Ministry, a protest against a scheme to determine whether workers should be scrutinized to see if they should be laid off or fired to meet other Troika demands to cut the public workforce.

A delegation met with Health Minister Makis Voridis, who reassured protesters that the evaluation process does not necessarily lead to layoffs. But unionists didn’t believe him and said they would continue with their protests.