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Economy

Greek Firm Offers Workers 500-Euro Bonuses for COVID Vaccinations

Using a tactic Greece's New Democracy did in offering the young 150 euros to get COVID-19 vaccinations, a metalworking firm in the central city of Larissa said it too will pay its workers who get the shots – but 500 euros ($592).

As the Coronavirus is resurging across Greece because of the rising Delta Variant, people defying health measures and anti-vaxxers who refuse to be inoculated, Cosmos Aluminium's management is anxious workers could be infected.

The company, said the news site Reuters, is starting to see orders pick up after lockdowns and despite the lingering pandemic and doesn't want that interrupted if workers become ill and have to be quarantined or worse.

“It would be a catastrophe,” said Vice-President Yannis Kantonias told the news agency, the move coming as the government is struggling to reach a 70 percent benchmark of vaccinations to slow the pandemic. It's only 61 percent now.

The Greek statistics agency ELSTAT reported that industrial production jumped 14 percent in May as the economy picked up again after long lockdowns in 2020 and with health restrictions pretty much set by the wayside now.

Cosmos, which mainly serves markets outside Greece, had introduced a range of precautions, with workers standing at safe distances apart but found that a significant number were skeptical about getting vaccinated, the report said.

“We thought that by rewarding all those who were responsible, we could build on a trend among those who were more indifferent and change their minds,” Kantonias said, hoping cash would be more persuasive.

The government offered the young bonuses in a digital wallet but it's campaign of urging refuseniks to get vaccinated has largely failed, leaving Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to order mandatory shots for health care workers.

Yannis Panikos, a worker at the Cosmos Aluminium plant, said the bonus was “a nice surprise” that should reassure the production floor although it wasn't said how many of the reluctant would take it up.

“Certainly there is a fear, due to the conditions of production we come in contact with other colleagues, so there is always a fear when you hear about a case,” he said, although the number of illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 is astronomically higher than for those who are fully vaccinated.

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