Striking Greek Doctors Let Go

ATHENS  – Some 700 doctors striking from their jobs with the public healthcare system EOPYY had their contracts cancelled after refusing orders from Greek Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis to return to work.

The government said it now is also mulling whether to effectively privatize the inefficient, money-bleeding EOPYY, under pressure from international lenders to cut costs further.

The doctors are protesting government plans to put many of them into a scheme in which they would be fired, transferred or suspended anyway and voted to keep their work stoppage going into next week, infuriating Georgiadis who has been battling with them.

Still, he left some room for them to possibly come back to work.

“My door is open for negotiations,” said Georgiadis. “The government cannot allow people to think they are a special cases and that everyone else is less important.”

The doctors were unmoved and said they would keep striking – even though they are technically without their jobs anyway – and would refuse to talk with Georgiadis.

“We intend to strike until December 9, as planned, because we refuse to give our consent to a nightmarish reality that aims to dismantle healthcare,” the doctors’ federation said in a statement.

It could be too late for them as the government now reportedly mulling shutting down EOPYY completely, as public broadcaster ERT was in June, and to be replaced by a new organization that would only employ administrative staff as it would purchase health services on behalf of the state.