Hospital doctors call off strikes

Hospital doctors yesterday decided to accept the provisions of a health bill voted through Parliament last week, calling off a series of rolling strikes that had paralyzed hospitals across the country. Following a general assembly meeting, unionists representing the doctors voted to accept the bill with 15 votes for and 10 votes against, thus ending weeks of strike action. Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos had last week sought to win over protesting state hospital doctors by offering them salary increases and the opportunity to join a fast-track process to become directors. Avramopoulos backtracked on a government about-face on a labor contract agreement and edged closer to the original pact that had satisfied doctors in December. But Avramapoulos had other problems to deal with yesterday. Dozens of employees of the state’s mental healthcare unit demonstrated outside the premises of the Health Ministry in central Athens, with some even setting up tents, demanding the disbursement of seven months in back pay. In the latest protest by disgruntled workers seeking withheld salaries, the employees of the state’s Psychargos program staged a peaceful demonstration. Avramapoulos, who on Tuesday night announced the release of 15 million euros in emergency funding for the program, agreed to meet with the workers and reportedly promised them that a portion of their unpaid wages would be released immediately. He also pledged to provide written guarantees, and a time line for the payment of their remaining wages, by next Monday. A spokeswoman for the protesting workers, Angeliki Sylligardaki, told Kathimerini that the promises were encouraging but said workers would remain on standby. «We will reserve our comments until the Health Ministry’s commitments are turned into actions,» she said.

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