Strikes hit hospitals, power

Doctors said yesterday that they would continue a strike that has left several state hospitals operating on emergency staff as employees of the Public Power Corporation vowed to press on with protest action expected to cause electricity shortages across the country. Unionists representing protesting doctors said they were planning to scale up their action after emerging unsatisfied from a meeting with Health Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou. The minister pledged to disburse outstanding pay for additional duty hours worked by doctors by early next month. This is not soon enough for the union, which is expected to intensify work stoppages, leaving an increasing number of hospitals across the country handling only emergency cases. Several hundred union members staged a peaceful protest outside the Health Ministry in central Athens in the early afternoon yesterday. Meanwhile Public Power Corporation workers, who occupied the main offices of the Manpower Organization in Alimos, southeastern Athens, on Monday, launched a 48-hour strike that is expected to lead to brief blackouts in Attica and elsewhere. The PPC workers, who have accused the government of «unfair, disastrous and absurd policies,» are protesting a freeze on scheduled hirings at PPC as well as bonus and holiday pay reductions. In a related development yesterday, civil servants joined a protest rally by their union ADEDY, which claims that the government’s austerity measures have unfairly targeted the public sector. The rally was marred by isolated outbreaks of violence involving self-styled anarchists hurling rocks at police who responded with tear gas. ADEDY, which has staged three 24-hour strikes over the past month, has already called another protest rally for next Tuesday and warned of fresh strike action on a date to be set soon. In Thessaloniki, teachers protesting cuts to holiday pay also staged a march. Gas station owners are due to stage a 24-hour strike tomorrow, in protest at increases in fuel tax.

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