Hospital workers and doctors join mass Greek strike

But MPs must vote for new cuts and tax rises to secure a €130bn loan to remain in the euro

Athens

Greek workers began a week-long series of protests today, upping the pressure on the government to vote down a crucial austerity package in parliament this week.

The painful cuts and tax hikes are demanded by international creditors in exchange for a €31bn loan instalment, designed to save Greece from bankruptcy and prevent the country's exit from the eurozone.

Journalists, state doctors and public transportation workers were among those striking today, their industrial action acting as a prelude to a nationwide 48-hour general strike due to begin today as parliament debates the contentious austerity measures worth €13.5bn.

Taxi drivers marched in the northern port town of Thessaloniki while hospital workers conducted a sit-in at government buildings in Athens yesterday.

Panos Papanikolaou, a neurosurgeon at one of the country's largest hospitals, said the measures would only further undermine the country's ailing healthcare system. "Doctors and hospital workers have started to strike because the measures will ruin our lives and the country's healthcare system," he said. Cuts in healthcare will close down many hospitals, reducing the country's hospital beds by nearly a third, the union of hospital doctors warned.

Mr Papanikolaou, who has been working for over 20 years, has seen his monthly wage drop to €1,330, from €2,030 in 2010. He worries that the spending cuts will reduce his income by another 25 per cent.

The austerity package is scheduled to be voted on on Wednesday, while the budget for 2013 is to be voted on on Sunday. The country's premier, Antonis Samaras, speaking to his party on Sunday warned of "catastrophic" implications if the country were to be forced out of the euro. "It would destroy our society, level our economy and blow up our democracy," he said, in an effort to rally his MPs.

Mr Samaras argued the vital aid would help reverse the country's recession, as only 10 per cent would be used to repay creditors. The cash would be directed at strengthening the banks, allowing them to approve loans and jump-start the economy.

Democratic Left, the junior party in the country's ruling coalition government, opposes thorny labour reforms included in Wednesday's bill that will make it easier for employers to fire staff and reduce salaries in the private sector. The issue has pitted elements within the fragile coalition against each other.

The numerous meetings between the leaders of Greece's coalition partners have failed to resolve the political deadlock as Democratic Left is determined to vote down the package.

The dispute between Democratic Left and the Premier Antonis Samaras is also infecting the country's second largest coalition partner, Pasok.

With Europe's most rapidly rising unemployment rate, at least a quarter of Greece's workers are now unemployed, while recession is expected to grind on for a sixth year. The future of the socialist party Pasok, at the helm of the country over the first two years of the crisis, remains at stake while its popularity continues to plummet.

Analysts believe the austerity measures will be passed by a tight margin.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Nadine Gordimer died peacefully at home yesterday
people
Arts and Entertainment
Neil Young performs on stage at Hyde Park
musicAnd his Hyde Park set has rhyme and reason, writes Nick Hasted
News
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Extras
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Paolo Nutini performs at T in the Park
music
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Programme Planner

£30000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Supply Chain Manager

Not Specified: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's most progressive and innova...

Senior SAP FICO Consultant, £60,000 - £65,000, Manchester

£55000 - £65000 per annum: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP FICO Consultant...

Service Desk Analyst - ITIL, Windows, Active Directory

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A world leading brokerage is looking for a...

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor