The Greek hospital workers union POEDIN held a six-hour strike on Tuesday to protest mandatory vaccinations for healthcare workers.
POEDIN called for healthcare workers across the country to stage walk-outs on Tuesday between 10 am and 3 pm and to attend anti-mandatory coronavirus vaccine rallies in several cities, including in Athens, where the protest was held outside of the Greek Health ministry.
The union stated that it was against the government’s mandatory vaccine policy, calling it “counterproductive”, according to the newspaper Ekathimerini.
Dozens of protestors attended the demonstration outside of the Greek Health Ministry in Athens and POEDIN stated that they were able to meet with the Greek Health Minister in a press release but claimed their demands were not met.
“We raised the issues specifically the lifting of the suspensions of duties of unvaccinated colleagues, resulting in the disorganization and rapid privatization of the health system,” the union said.
“On the suspension of duties of unvaccinated colleagues, he said that there is no case for lifting the measure and returning colleagues to work with two rapid tests a week as is the case with other professional groups and protective measures,” the union added and stated that it would continue protests.
POEDIN has stated that so far, around 3,000 healthcare workers have been vaccinated. However, 7,000 have since been suspended for being unvaccinated, up from the nearly 6,000 reported in the days after the deadline.
The union also advised that unvaccinated staff should return to work, arguing that vaccinated people still transmit the virus and noted that some had had the shots as long as seven months ago. “Colleagues must now return to work with two rapid tests per week and personal protection measures,” the union said.
The protest was not the first by healthcare workers since the rollout of the mandatory vaccine programme.
Hundreds of healthcare workers gathered in Athens on September 2nd, the day after the vaccine deadline, with around 400 people gathering outside the health ministry arguing that while they were not against vaccination, the mandate would lead to staff shortages in hospitals.
Less than two weeks after the vaccine deadline, Greek media reported that some healthcare workers had presented fake vaccine documents in order to avoid being suspended from their positions. Meanwhile, at least ten vaccine centres were placed under investigation for issuing fake vaccine certificates.
Deputy Health Minister Mina Gaga later stated that the government would be “ruthless” towards those presenting falsified documents and that legal action would be taken.