ATHENS – Their earlier calls ignored, Greek health care workers stepped up their demand for better working conditions to help cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, this time some 50 of them blocking traffic on a major capital road.
They were medical workers of the capital’s Red Cross (Erythros Stavros) from the Panhellenic Federation of State Hospital Employees (POEDIN) and staff who stepped into Kifissias Avenue on Dec. 21.
OEDIN chief Michalis Giannakos urged drivers to step out of their cars to applaud healthcare workers in an act of solidarity during what turned into only a few minute disruption he called a “symbolic protest.”
In April, hundreds of healthcare workers demonstrated to protest at working conditions and lack of manpower and equipment in public hospitals during the pandemic that is now in a second wave.
At that first protest, they held up signs demanding more staff and protection for themselves as frontline workers and additional help. Now public hospitals Intensive Care Units (ICUs) are nearly overwhelmed, the New Democracy government not moving to take over private hospitals as vowed.
Doctors, nurses and other hospital workers also gathered outside hospitals and the country’s health ministry to demand job protection, salary raises and the hiring of more medical staff to fight against COVID-19 at the first protest.