Greek judges and doctors protest over pay
on 17/09/2012 16:33:28
The latest round of action between unions and the Greek coalition is the most serious confrontation yet, and is in protest of the government's ever-increasing mountain of unpaid bills and salaries.
For the next two weeks, judges protesting against expected salary cuts will only handle cases considered to be emergencies.
The protest is likely to disrupt everything from disputes over wills to prosecutions against rioters. It is also likely to worsen the country's huge backlog of court cases, including thousands of pending tax settlements.
"We state that we are resolute in our decision to protect our rights as guaranteed in the constitution," Vassiliki Thanou, head of the Association of Judges and Public Prosecutors, told a protest gathering held in a chamber of the Supreme Court.
"Time for the government has run out."
During the protest, courts will open for between one and two hours each day, while court dealing with tax cases will remain closed.
The lengthy protest called by professional groups is a departure from the briefer strikes staged by larger labour groups who have called for a general strike on September 26.
Also state hospital doctors started an indefinite protest, treating emergency cases only, over unpaid overtime pay.
They joined private doctors who earlier this month began refusing to treat state-insured patients without full payment, while pharmacies have also staged on-and-off protests refusing to hand over medicines at prescription prices.
The government is putting off paying suppliers' bills and some salaries while it awaits its next rescue loan instalment.
Greece has been relying on international bailout loans so that it is not forced into a chaotic default on its debt and possibly out of the 17 country group that uses the euro.
The government is currently trying to finalise an austerity package required for continued emergency rescue loans.