Greek doctors in Athens stage 24-hour strike to protest staff shortages

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Healthcare workers rallied outside the Greek Health Ministry in Athens.
Healthcare workers rallied outside the Greek Health Ministry in Athens.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis

About 500 protesters rallied in the Greek capital on Thursday to protest against staff shortages and compulsory coronavirus vaccinations.

The demonstration moved past Greece's parliament towards the health ministry, with many chanting slogans and holding up banners.

Unions representing doctors, nurses, and other medical staff are protesting government plans, which they say will lead to long working hours while undermining workers’ rights.

Medical workers also want to be included in the list of professions that receive extra hazard pay in Greece for “heavy and unhealthy” work.

The unions have also objected to the suspension of unvaccinated health care workers, saying this only exacerbates staff shortages.

Faced with rising infections and vaccine reluctance, the country's government has introduced a series of incentives and penalties to encourage Greeks to get COVID-19 vaccines.

Vaccinations have been made mandatory for health care workers and those working in care homes for the elderly. Just over 60% of Greece’s population are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The unions say that while they support vaccinations, individual staff members should have the right to choose.

Greece has seen a spike in coronavirus infections this summer, and new daily cases stand at around 3,000.