Ambulance workers’ union demands fleet renewal


The refugee crisis is also taking a toll on Greek ambulance services as the country’s shrinking and aging fleet is finding it increasingly difficult to fulfill its duties.

According to the country’s union of ambulance workers (EKAB), out of the 30 vehicles available for night shift duty in Attica, 10 are used to transfer the residents of refugee centers to and from hospitals, while during the day the figure was 10-15 ambulances out of total of 50-55.

The president of EKAB in Attica, Giorgos Mathiopoulos, implied that fewer ambulances would be required if the refugee camps were better coordinated and organized.

Representatives of ambulance workers, who went on strike Tuesday over unpaid wages, met with Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis and discussed the problems triggered by the refugee crisis and the urgent need to renew the country’s ambulance fleet.

Polakis pledged that a tender would be launched in June for the acquisition of 96 ambulances and mobile medical units, with financial support from the European Union’s National Strategic Reference Framework (known in Greece as ESPA). However, ambulance worker representatives asked the minister to fast-track the purchase of the ambulances with money from the ministry’s budget.

The union also gave Polakis until the end of the week to resolve the issue of unpaid wages. Workers are owed wages for night and holiday shifts – as well as salaries for out-of-town work – from December 2014 through February 2016.