State hospital workers take action over working hours

A court in Athens is due to hear on Monday a case brought by state hospital workers against the Health Ministry over long working hours.

POEDA, the union representing the hospital employees, argues that the ministry is not abiding by the European Union working time directive. It says doctors and nurses are not given 11 hours off between shifts as well as two days off and only one evening shift during the week.

In November, the European Commission referred Greece to the European Court of Justice over the same issue.

“In practice, doctors working in public hospitals and health centers in Greece often have to work a minimum average of 64 hours per week and over 90 hours in some cases, with no legal maximum limit,” the Commission said. “The Commission considers this situation a serious infringement of the EU’s Working Time Directive, endangering not only doctors’ health and safety but also their patients as over-tired doctors risk making mistakes.”

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