Greek civil servants strike over COVID-19 safety measures, financial issues

A 24-hour nationwide strike was organized on Thursday by ADEDY, the umbrella union representing public servants in Greece, over COVID-19 safety measures and financial issues.

Nurses working in state hospitals and teachers in public schools along with students marched in the center of Athens, as disruptions were reported in public services and mass transportation.

Protesters chanted slogans requesting additional health safety measures against the novel coronavirus, more hirings and tax cuts among others.

“What they are asking for is to keep their jobs. Many are on short term contracts and fear that they will be fired after the novel coronavirus recedes,” Michalis Giannakos, president of the Panhellenic Federation of Public Hospital Employees (POEDIN), told Xinhua during the demonstration.

Despite the funds invested and hirings made in recent months, the labor union requests further spending on the healthcare system to strengthen it ahead of the winter, as the country is already amidst the second wave of the pandemic.

They are asking the government for more beds in intensive care units, more staff and more free coronavirus tests on healthcare professionals and the public to improve the virus tracing.

“Currently the number of tests made is insufficient,” Giannakos said.

“Although thousands of auxiliary personnel was hired, still we face gaps in schools. Pupils are crammed in classes of 25, while officials should have made more steps to ensure groups of fewer students,” Thanassis Kikinis, president of the Greek Primary Teachers’ Federation (DOE), told Xinhua.

The National Public Health Organization announced on Wednesday evening 436 new confirmed novel coronavirus infections within 24 hours, which brings the total to 23,495 since the first case was diagnosed in Greece on Feb. 26.

The total number of fatalities in the country has now reached 469, it was announced.