Greek doctors, pharmacists go on strike
Athens - Greek pharmacists and doctors on Monday kicked off a week of labour mobilisation against cost-cutting measures and liberalisation reforms pursued by the country's debt-struck government.
Most pharmacies nationwide were to shut until Tuesday in opposition to a state attempt to further reduce their profit margins to 15%, from 18% previously, in order to help sustain Greece's troubled social security funds.
State hospitals were only treating emergency cases until Thursday to pressure the government to abandon plans for additional wage cuts, which are part of ongoing salary reductions in the broader Greek public sector.
And the association of Greek doctors has also called its members to a nationwide walkout, barring emergencies, in protest against health sector spending cuts.
The Greek government is trying to limit overspending on social welfare, part of a general austerity drive ordered under pressure from the EU and International Monetary Fund after the country nearly went bankrupt in 2010.
Chaotic account-keeping has led to massive waste of state funds for decades.
Last year, labour ministry officials revealed that millions of euros annually had been spent on retirement payments to long-dead pensioners.
Last week, the government said health spending overall had skyrocketed to €10.6bn in 2009 and the goal was to reduce the sum to €7bnthis year.
"Failure to do so means that pensions would have to be cut by 12%," Labour Minister George Koutroumanis told a news conference.
Many retired Greeks have already sustained pension cuts in addition to income lost through price hikes, while civil servants have also had their monthly salaries slashed by hundreds of euros.