ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek civil servants have walked off the job in a 24-hour strike demanding, among other things, better pay for health and education workers and more hiring during the coronavirus pandemic.
Thursday’s strike shut down public services across the country, while the participation of air traffic controllers forced airlines to cancel or reschedule flights until 8 a.m. Friday.
Hundreds of health care workers marched through central Athens ahead of the main strike demonstration set for the center of the capital later Thursday morning.
The country’s main civil servants’ union, ADEDY, called the strike over a series of demands, including an increase in health spending, more intensive care unit beds and new permanent hirings in education to allow for school classes to be limited to 15 pupils.
The union also called for the abolition of a series of taxes for civil services and a reduction of consumer tax to 15% from the current 24%, as well as changes to a recent law on demonstrations and a repeal of privatizations.
Greece has been experiencing a resurgence in the coronavirus pandemic that has increased pressure on the health system. The government has increased the number of intensive care unit beds available for coronavirus patients, and has pledged to add more ICU beds overall by the end of the year.
The country of around 11 million people has seen new daily coronavirus cases hovering around the 300 to 400 mark. It currently has a total of 23,495 confirmed cases, with 469 deaths and 86 people intubated in ICUs across Greece.