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Greece: Protesting Hospital Workers Clash with Police

ATHENS — Protesting Greek health care workers clashed with police outside parliament during a demonstration in Athens Wednesday against proposed hospital reforms.

Riot police fired tear gas at protesters who challenged a cordon. No arrests were reported, while several protesters sought medical attention for breathing difficulties.

Lawmakers are debating proposed health care reforms that include new guidelines to recognize the tenure of doctors and nurses who have worked abroad.

Unions say the measure is also designed to undermine labor rights for Greek hospital staff, an allegation the center-right government denies. They are also demanding that more short-term contract workers be given regular jobs.

Health care unions have staged frequent protests during the pandemic, arguing that not enough support has been given to exhausted hospital staff members dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.

“Many of our members are being held hostage with short-term contracts,” hospital doctors’ union leader Michalis Yiannakos said. “There is a large number of surgeries and medical cases that have been delayed because of the pandemic, so it’s imperative that the health system is strengthened. But the opposite is happening.”

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