ATHENS – Unrepentant and still defiant after a series of outbursts and provocations, Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis kept a stranglehold on a bullhorn while speaking at a protest of hospital cleaners as the head of the union tried to take it from him.
Polakis and Michalis Yiannakos, who have tangled verbally frequently in a war of words, this time were arguing over who should speak to the workers who were demonstrating outside the Health Ministry.
Already facing a prosecutor’s probe over a phone call with Bank of Greece Gov. Yannis Stournaras that was secretly recorded and released, Polakis is being sued by the union of hospital workers whose members he reportedly called “trash.”
Polakis is a surgeon who hasn’t been practicing since serving the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA and didn’t explain his comments as he had worked with hospital employees in his previous profession.
“Polakis, while speaking to journalists, called me and my colleagues trash,” said Yiannakos, the President of POEDIN, which has been upset with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ Radical Left SYRIZA government for health care cuts the Premier said he would stop before breaking his word as he did in saying he would reverse austerity measures.
Footage showed Yiannakos shouting and trying to take the bullhorn from a resistant Polakis as the minister was speaking to the crowd, trying to convince them the ministry was trying to help them as they said it wasn’t.
Cleaners on short-term contracts, like thousands of other temporary civil servants, want life-time permanent job guarantees at hospitals or an extension to their contracts. The union called a work stoppage for them at hospitals on March 21.