ATHENS – Unsatisfied with New Democracy benefits for laid-off workers whose businesses were temporarily shut during a lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, dozens of member from the major opposition Radical Left SYRIZA protested outside the Labor Ministry.
Following the lead of SYRIZA chief and former premier Alexis Tsipras, who said the government was politically exploiting the health crisis, they said not enough was being done to help those hard-hit economically.
The government has poured 17.5 billion euros ($18.94 billion) into a program to help workers and businesses which were closed on March 23 with many only now beginning to reopen as the lockdown is rolled back.
The protesters, who were holding placards and shouting slogans against the conservative administration, also demonstrated against what they said was the government failing to help the National Health System (ESY.)
Unmentioned were SYRIZA budget cuts to the health sector during its 4 ½-year reign that ended in a defeat to New Democracy in July 7, 2019 snap elections, that left the public hospitals with not enough Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds, the number now being more than doubled under the Conservatives administration.
Protesters also unrolled a banner from the third floor of the ministry on Stadiou Street featuring an image of Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutisis under the slogan, “Their barbarity will not become the norm,” said Kathimerini.