Greek Workers Strikes Spreading

doctor_390_2801Only days after riot police broke up a Metro strike, a new transport strike has shut down buses and trains for Jan. 28-29 and more work stoppages are being planned by doctors, health centers, ambulance drivers and utility workers. Trolley workers suspended their plans to strike.

The medical workers said they will walk off the job on Jan. 31 for 24 hours to protest cuts in the national healthcare system and the government health insurance agency the National Organization for Healthcare Provision (EOPYY.)The strike will be accompanied by rally outside the Health Ministry and march to Syntagma Square.

The main union representing Public Power Corporation workers, GENOP-DEI, said its members will hold a 24-hour strike the same day, this one in support of metro, tram and electric railway workers in Athens who were forced to return to work after a nine-day strike over wage cuts.

The public transport workers were issued with civil mobilization orders by the government. GENOP-DEI said that the measure was “illegal, undemocratic and unconstitutional.” It is not clear if the strike threatens to cause any power outages, according to the Athens newspaper Kathimerini.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has taken a hard line against strikes and said no one will be exempted from austerity measures he imposed on the orders of international lenders, except for Parliament workers who have repeatedly threatened to strike if the government attempts to impose more pay cuts on them.

One of his coalition partners, PASOK Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos, reportedly wanted the transport workers excluded from more austerity measures too but relented and said the Metro strike was “unacceptable,” while the other coalition member, Democratic Left head Fotis Kouvelis, who has occasionally complained about pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions, has also gone along with Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative party leader.