Greek doctors join picket lines

Transport workers and doctors on strike in Greece.
Transport workers and doctors on strike in Greece.

ATHENS — Greek trains and ferries ground to a halt and hospital staffing was cut to a minimum today as transport workers and doctors went on strike to protest austerity measures demanded by the country’s foreign lenders.

Greece has seen a surge in protests and strikes in recent weeks as public anger simmers over wage and spending cuts that are deepening hardship in a country suffering through its sixth consecutive year of recession.

Public transport in Athens was disrupted as bus, trolleybus and railway workers went on strike while ships and ferries stayed docked at ports after seamen began a 48-hour stoppage.

Doctors and medical workers went on strike to protest “dangerous” austerity measures that they said had left the nation’s health system short of supplies and staff.

Greece’s main public sector union ADEDY also called a walkout in solidarity with the striking health care workers.

“They are closing down hospitals and cutting down on medical equipment and medicines in the hospitals,” ADEDY’s secretary general Ilias Iliopoulos said. “There is a big shortage in doctors and other medical staff… We are asking the government to stop the collapse of the public health service.”

The latest protests come after a nine-day walkout by metro workers led to a standoff with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s government earlier this month and paralysed transport across the Greek capital. The strike ended only after the government invoked an emergency law and threatened to arrest the workers. (Reuters)

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