Doctors’ go-slow action is illegal, says ministry

Doctors working for the National Health System (ESY) have no right to protest by launching go-slow action, nor are they entitled to payment for the duration of such protests, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.

ESY doctors have been staging rolling work stoppages since early September -? bringing many of the cash-strapped country?s public hospitals and medical centers to breaking point -? in protest at unpaid arrears from emergency duties, which they say have built up for over five months.

However, the Health Ministry said in a statement that they are not entitled to salaries or other benefits while they are involved in industrial action, adding they will also miss out on being granted points in the promotion system for that period as well.

The ministry?s statement comes following a report from the state?s Legal Council that was presented to Minister Andreas Lykourentzos, who said that the ruling ?ensures the legal operation and public interest of the National Health System?s units.?

The ruling prompted an immediate reaction from the president of the Federation of Greek Hospital Doctors? Unions, Dimitris Varnavas, who said that the federation will be taking legal action to refute the ruling. He said the council?s finding is in violation of European Union legislation and called on other experts to examine the legality of the ruling.

?In short, the legal council is saying that ESY doctors, despite not being paid for five months of emergency duties, are not allowed to exercise their right to go-slow action because the Greek state is deemed such a reliable employer,? said Varnavas.

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