Greek Doctors, Colleges, Keep Striking

Striking Greek doctors employed by the country’s main public healthcare provider, EOPYY, said the would continue their work stoppage until at least Dec. 9 even though Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis warned them there would be dire consequences which he didn’t specify.

The doctors are protesting a revamping of the health care system that could see some of them being fired and complained that Georgiadis was being disingenuous in dealing with them.

EOPYY’s Vice-President Yiannis Chronopoulos, said that the strike may even be extended beyond Dec. 9, disregarding Georgiadis’ vague threats that he had a “Plan B” if they continued to stay off the job. “They will not like it,” he said without giving details. “No one can blackmail the state,” he added.

“I am not prepared to keep in the public sector people who are not necessary,” Georgiadis told SKAI TV. “I would then have to cut from pensions, which I consider immoral,” he said, although the government does not.

Meanwhile, administrative staff at Athens University and the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) decided to push their strike into a 13th week next week, jeopardizing the semester for students who were supposed to have begun classes in September. The university staff – while is being paid during the strike – is protesting government plans to put hundreds of workers into a scheme of forced transfers and layoffs.

There had been signs of a breakthrough after talks between Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos and university rectors led to both sides compromising and the government giving in, saying far few workers would lose their jobs, although it was uncertain how that would sit with Greece’s international lenders pressing for more firing.

But Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who is overseeing the overhaul of the civil service, overturned Arvanitopoulos’ offer, , saying that “there is no way” the original number of 1,349 employees slated to join the scheme could be reduced.

Arvanitopoulos blamed the breakdown on pressure on unionists by leftist SYRIZA and far-left Antarsya. He has said he will take “all necessary measures” to ensure that students do not lose their first semester which is set to end in a few weeks for the holidays anyway. There was talk that students and professors would be required to have classes seven days a week through the holidays to catch up.