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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-07-28

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>


  • [01] Olympic Village Polyclinic, first Olympics project to be turned over to public use, inaugurated by PM
  • [02] Ombudsman, minister publish 'good conduct' guide for civil servants
  • [03] Parliament passes labour bill instituting flexible work hours

  • [01] Olympic Village Polyclinic, first Olympics project to be turned over to public use, inaugurated by PM

    The Olympic Village Polyclinic, the first Olympics project to be turned over to public use after the Athens 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games, was inaugurated Thursday by prime minister Costas Karamanlis, during a ceremony attended by health minister Nikitas Kaklamanis, alternate culture minister Fani Palli-Petralia, and other officials.

    The Polyclinic "is a precious part of the legacy of the Games, and together with other Olympics projects, will serve as a lever for development and a point of reference in the improvement of the lives of many," Karamanlis said.

    "It is easy to build walls. But to give life to the walls and appropriate healthcare to the average citizen is the wager," Kaklamanis said, in turn.

    The Olympic Village Polyclinic, a multi-specialty clinic, is a public benefit S.A. and belongs to the state.

    It's pilot operation commenced on Thursday immediately after the inauguration, and medical care facility will be open five days a week during the test period, with only the outpatient clinics, physical therapy department, microbiological and biochemical laboratories, and medical imaging (x-ray, CT, MRI, ultrasound) examinations department operating during the initial pilot period.

    Once all the homes in the Olympic Village are occupied, the Polyclinic will expand to regular operation in the framework of primary healthcare, and is expected to serve residents in the wider region, and not only those of the Olympic Village, with a general medical department, emergency room, short-term hospitalisation unit, and a paediatrics department, as well as a model informatics system and computerised medical files on patients.

    [02] Ombudsman, minister publish 'good conduct' guide for civil servants

    Greek Ombudsman George Kaminis and Deputy Interior Minister Apostolos Andreoulakos presented a new publication entitled "A Guide to Good Conduct for Civil Servants" during a press conference held on Thursday.

    Andreoulakos stressed that a change in attitudes and behaviour on the part of civil servants was the most fundamental change of all, without which all the money, new infrastructure and effort invested in reforming public administration would simply fail to yield the required result.

    "We have to stir up the stagnant waters in the public sector. Civil servants, like the rest of us, must change their attitude," the minister said.

    He also noted that the guide did not introduce new rules but simply reorganised those that already existed in a more systematic way and expressed them in simple language that was easy to understand.

    Andreoulakos also described the guide as attempt to teach a new administrative culture, in which the tax-paying citizen received his dues as the central reason for the existence of state services. The minister also praised the staff at the Citizens Service Centres, saying that they exemplified this new civil service culture in action.

    Kaminis pointed out that civil servants were dogged by negative stereotypes and that a vicious circle of mutual suspicion and distrust marked interactions between citizens and public-sector services. He said the guide essentially repeated the obvious - which was not necessarily adhere to in practice, however - and expressed hope that it would mark a new start in efforts for change.

    [03] Parliament passes labour bill instituting flexible work hours

    The government's industrial relations bill, including articles instituting flexible working hours and lower overtime pay, was passed by the Recess Section of Parliament on Thursday.

    Earlier, a majority of MPs had approved the two controversial articles on working hours and overtime in a roll-call vote demanded by main opposition PASOK, with 55 ruling New Democracy MPs voting in favour and 41 MPs from all three opposition parties voting against them.

    On Thursday morning, parliamentarians had held another roll-call vote to approve the bill in principle, which was again passed by 55 votes in favour and 42 against.

    The Recess Section of Parliament is held during the summer months and comprises one third of the plenary session, or 100 MPs. All MPs participate in one Recess Section of Parliament during the summer months.

    The new measures change the way overtime work is calculated and compensated, with the overtime rate lowered to 25 percent of hour-payment from 50 percent at present. On an annual basis, overtime work up to 120 hours will be paid with an additional increase of 50 percent, and by 75 percent for overtime work of more than 120 hours annually.

    The bill also envisages a method of calculating working time on a four-month, or on an annual basis for seasonal enterprises, with a ceiling of 10 hours daily work. The new system calls for agreements between companies and workers' unions. In cases of disagreement, a special commission will be formed to find a mutually accepted solution on the prefectural level.

    The new legislation also foresees stricter procedures for inspecting businesses and worksites.

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