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Victory of the guild of journalists

31 October 2012 / 18:10:30  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

On Wednesday Greece woke up to no information. Associations of those working in national media announced a 24-hour strike in protest against the merger of their health insurance funds and the National Organization for Health Care Provision (EOPII).

Journalists from newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations gathered in front of the building of the Journalist Union in Athens and held a procession to the entrance of the Parliament which police buses had blocked.

Representatives of the journalists’ union formed a group that entered the building, where the voting on the bill on privatization had already begun, to lobby against the decision of the Ministry of Finance.

The strike was announced late last night after it became clear that Minister of Finance Yiannis Stournaras had submitted a last-minute amendment to the bill, according to which health insurance funds of media workers would become part of the general health system.

The president of the Journalist Union in Athens accused "the government of the Troika" of "wanting to destroy a financially stable health insurance fund and then to plunder its property."

The present journalists were also of the opinion that the fund should not be merged with the general fund. According to them, the cabinet also plans to cancel the so-called "angeliosimo" tax, which is 21.5% and means that part of the amount that consumers pay for the purchase of any product goes to the fund of journalists.

Participants in the protest remained outside the Parliament for several hours until it became clear that the Parliament had not voted the controversial amendment. The health insurance fund was "saved", but the same is not true for the public opinion of media representatives.

Angry comments appeared on social media: "Perhaps we, "the last" in EOPII envy because it has been officially proven today that we are plebeians?" Meanwhile, members of other occupations such as lawyers, engineers and physicians also commented: "The most shameful thing is that I, as a member of one such financially "healthy" fund, pay half the social security compared with some of the low paid employees."

There were comments from journalists noting that the preferential treatment of journalists would return to them like a boomerang. "The amendment to include journalists in the National Organization for Health Care Provision has become the perfect trap. Let's see how its rejection will be explained to the public. It's just impossible. This is a case of basic lessons in social automatism with numerous allusions to corruption."

A little earlier, residents of Florina and Kastoria had protested in front of the Parliament, opposing the increased excise duty on heating oil. They had spilled ice cubes on the sidewalk "to freeze the government" and show it that winter was very severe for them and the households needed large amounts of heating oil.

Representatives of school boards and teachers were among them, who warned that because of budget cuts, schools in the region would be forced to close due to lack of heating.

"It is a real paradox for the state to provide money for heating and then, to want half of it back in the form of an excise duty. Anyway, the money is not enough after the budget cuts. If the excise duty is not cancelled for regions like ours, the danger of closing schools is quite real," teacher George Kiriakou stated.

He said that deputies from the region, all representatives of local government and business have united in the protest initiative. So far, there have been no results from their meeting with the Ministry of Finance.

Tags: SocietyMediaStrike of journalistsHealth insurance fundAmendment to the bill
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