Greek doctors, public transport workers on strike

Updated 31 January 2013
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Greek doctors, public transport workers on strike

ATHENS: Greek doctors, port workers and public transport staff in the country’s capital walked off the job on Thursday in strikes against deeply unpopular austerity measures that have seen incomes slashed as the country struggles to emerge from a deep financial crisis.
Hundreds of protesters gathered at separate demonstrations, with port workers rallying in Greece’s main port of Piraeus and about 500 public hospital workers chanting slogans outside the Health Ministry in central Athens.
One of the demonstrators, Tassos Antonopoulos, a member of the Greek Federation of Public Hospital Workers, said it wasn’t just medical staff who were suffering because of the cuts.
“People have less and more expensive options,” he said. “It is not possible for the citizens of this country, at a time when they are suffering from this situation and the crisis in the country, to not find the care that they deserve in the public hospitals.”
The strikes left Athens without buses, suburban rail and trolleys for the day, while Greek islands will be without ferry services for two days. With doctors and ambulance workers also on strike, public hospitals were functioning with emergency staff only on Thursday.
The capital’s subway system was running, however, as its workers were still under a civil mobilization order after the government invoked rare emergency powers last week to end an eight-day metro strike.
The civil servants’ union declared a three-hour work stoppage at all public services from noon in solidarity, shutting down other services such as post offices.
Greece has been gripped by a severe financial crisis since late 2009 and is being kept afloat by billions of euros in rescue loans from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund. In return, the government has imposed wave upon wave of spending cuts and tax hikes, leading to severe salary and pension cuts and leaving unemployment spiraling to above 26 percent. Many of those still employed have not received paychecks in months.
“We want collective agreements to be signed, and back payments for working people to be paid,” said Savas Tsiboglou, head of the Greek Association of Merchant Marine Mechanics, as he demonstrated Thursday morning in Piraeus.
Workers have been protesting the abolition of collective wage agreements and planned reforms to the pension and income contribution system. Other measures that took effect this year include a 25 percent cut to the incomes of most public servants, leading to a string of new strikes and protests.
Separately, farmers in central Greece parked their tractors along the country’s main highway for a second day, under the watchful eye of riot police, threatening to shut the road to protest spending cuts and high fuel taxes.
Similar protests by farmers in the past have led to widespread disruption to transport and the supply of goods, with the central north-south highway shut for weeks.
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Srdjan Nedeljkovic in Athens contributed.


Australian nun who angered Duterte wins stay in deportation

Updated 18 June 2018
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Australian nun who angered Duterte wins stay in deportation

  • Sister Patricia Fox, 71, was briefly detained in April after Duterte ordered her arrest
  • The nun was accused of political activism that violated the rules of her visa

MANILA: An Australian nun ordered to leave the Philippines after angering President Rodrigo Duterte won a reprieve on Monday from imminent deportation but is still subject to proceedings to expel her.
Sister Patricia Fox, 71, was briefly detained in April after Duterte ordered her arrest, accusing her of political activism that violated the rules of her visa.
The move came as the government cracked down on foreign critics of his human rights record.
The immigration service had canceled her visa and directed Fox to leave the Philippines by Monday, but the justice department nullified the order as having no legal basis.
“What the (immigration service) did in this case is beyond what the law provides, that is why it has to be struck down,” said a statement from Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who oversees immigration matters.
The decision gave Fox a reprieve but the department also ordered the immigration authorities to hear a case on her visa’s cancelation along with pending deportation proceedings.
“Until a final resolution of the... proceedings is reached, or until the expiration of her missionary visa, whichever comes first, Sister Fox may continue to perform her duties as a missionary in the Philippines,” the statement said.
Fox, who declared herself relieved after the decision, said her visa was valid until September 9.
“We are very pleased actually, because we weren’t sure what would happen,” she told AFP. “I was just so relieved.”
Fox, who has been living in the Philippines since 1990, attracted Duterte’s wrath after joining a fact-finding mission in April to investigate alleged abuses against farmers — including killings and evictions by soldiers fighting guerrillas in the southern Philippines.
Duterte, 73, has also launched a deadly crackdown on drugs and has railed against human rights critics, especially foreigners whom he accuses of meddling in his nation’s affairs.
In April Duterte accused Fox of “disorderly conduct.”
“Don’t let her in because that nun has a shameless mouth,” he said then.
A missionary of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, Fox has denied engaging in politics, saying her actions were part of her work to advocate for justice and peace. She adds she enjoys freedom of expression.
Before Monday’s decision was released Fox said she would fight moves to deport her.
“It’s more of looking at getting due process for myself (and) this happening to others,” she told ABS-CBN television.
“I’m thinking if there’s no due process when I am high profile, how much more in the provinces where people are being arrested?“