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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

2/18/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Latest plan meant overturning existing labor laws and elimination of jobs

For the Greek population, the word "austerity" has meant the demise of labor, economic and human rights and the dismantling of an inefficient -- yet necessary social welfare system. According to European mainstream economists and politicians, the solution to the Greek debt crisis is "fiscal consolidation."

Doctors of the World is a group of medical officers provides free treatment, medical supplies and foodstuffs to people lacking social insurance in Greece.

Doctors of the World is a group of medical officers provides free treatment, medical supplies and foodstuffs to people lacking social insurance in Greece.

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/18/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Greeks, poverty, homelessness, pay cuts


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In a last ditch attempt to secure an additional bailout loan of 130 billion dollars from the the International Monetary Found, the European Central Bank and the European Commission, Greece has agreed to the austerity plan in an attempt to escape bankruptcy.

The latest phase of the plan included cutting 150,000 public sector jobs, overturning existing labor laws, slashing pensions and reducing monthly minimum wages by 20 percent. Workers under 25 years of age have been asked to take a 30 percent salary cut.

Parliament ushered in the fresh "bout of austerity" on February 12 after increasing violence across the city. Mobs of newly impoverished Greeks took to the streets, setting Athens ablaze.

"Greece was a country with universal healthcare. Now, many of the people who show up in public hospitals can't even afford the five-euro general admission fee introduced two years ago. Ten percent of patients don't even have insurance," Meropi Andriopoulou, a medical officer involved in the national health system since 1989 says.

"Spending your days in a public hospital (highlights the degree of) social exclusion. Our healthcare system has collapsed and there is no political will to get it back on track," she added.

Having taken a salary decrease of over one thousand euro herself, Andriopoulou, a mother of two, decided to join "Doctors of the World." The group of medical officers provides free treatment, medical supplies and foodstuffs to people lacking social insurance.

"You can't imagine that this kind of social exclusion exists until you show up there," Andriopoulou says. "Moreover, I was surprised to see that most volunteers were unemployed doctors or people under serious financial hardships themselves."

"Like many of them, I don't believe in philanthropy, I believe that poverty is a social issue, not the result of bad fate. I have spent over two decades working for the National Healthcare System, which I believe has been the victim of clientele-ism and political interests. The only response to it is a political one," she added.

The rapidly increasing numbers of homeless people sleeping around central Athens proves that austerity measures have struck segments of the population especially hard. 

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