Two Greek hospitals under Workers’ Control

“We occupy our public hospitals for deep and meaningful democratisation, which will make society competent to decide its own future again.”

Confronted with a dire economic situation and having witnessed major social and economic changes in their country, health workers in Greecehave occupied two public hospitals, opposing the harsh austerity measures adopted by the Greek government in the last two years.

The public hospital in Kilkis (northern Greece) has been under full workers’ control since the 6th of February: The employees underline that “with full awareness of our social mission and moral commitments associated with our office, we will protect the health of citizens attending the hospital, providing free care to those in need.” At the same time, they ask the government to “finally take its responsibilities, surpassing even this last hour its immeasurable social insensitivity.”

Workers at the General Hospital of Kilkis stress that the occupation of the hospital will not end until the full payment of their accruals and the return of their salaries to pre-cut levels. They state that they “respond to the fascist-isation with democracy” by putting the hospital “under the direct and complete control” of the workers where “the only responsible decision-making body of an administrative nature will be the General Assembly of workers in it.”

ne week later on February 13th the Rethymnon (Crete) Hospital Doctors Association and the Association of Workers also began the occupation and self-management of their local general hospital in response to the degradation induced by the merger of the hospital of Chania. Commenting on the proposed merger , the Doctors Association says the Chania hospital has been designated for regional Western Crete and this automatically leads to the reduction of hospital operations in Rethymnon. According to government documents, the merger provides for the operation of departments and units in only one of the two hospitals and involves closing sections of the hospital of Rethymnon. It also provides for the transfer of patients for treatment and diagnosis in the neighbouring county since there is no corresponding section for further medical treatment and patients with urgent problems would have to move to Chania. Finally, the merger involves the transfer of administrative and other services to cover staff shortages in the central hospital.

The workers stress that “the above description gives the exact operating conditions of the merged hospital and once again mocks the sick and residents of that county.” Furthermore, they consider “unwanted” the political “representatives of the county and each political spokesman defending the survival of banks against the lives of humans” and they state that the hospital will remain under their Assembly’s control until the overthrow of the neo-liberal policy.

Last but not least, the workers in both occupied public hospitals ask for every possible support and call on the society and workers affected by the financial crisis to take similar action, “until our final victory against the economic-political elite which is now oppressing the country and destroys the world.”