The future of America when "Single Payer" meets fiscal insolvency.
ATHENS, Greece — Police clashed with doctors protesting outside the Health Ministry in central Athens Friday over cutbacks enacted in response to Greece's financial crisis.
Riot police used pepper spray to disperse protesters outside the ministry building during the brief clashes as doctors and staff at public hospitals in greater Athens held a three-hour work stoppage.
Greece's largest unions are planning a general strike on May 11. The government announced a new round of cuts last month, that include a €15 billion ($22.22 billion) privatization program.
The country is battling to avoid restructuring its massive debt and to meet demands for faster cost-cutting reforms by the providers of its €110 billion rescue loan package.
A strike by Portuguese civil servants against austerity measures Friday had little impact on public services, though unions reported disruption to trash collection and hospital staffing levels.
Portugal's National Federation of Civil Service Unions, which called the 24-hour strike, said around 60 percent of Lisbon trash collection staff stayed away from work and most emergency staff at main hospitals walked off the job. Minimum hospital staffing levels, which are required by law, were provided.
Some schools canceled classes and several hospitals postponed scheduled operations, but court hearings and national school exams largely went ahead as scheduled and most public offices were open, according to media reports from around the country.
The unions, which represent around 250,000 workers, are fighting austerity measures that are part of the country's €78 billion ($115 billion) bailout designed to avert national bankruptcy.
Portugal is freezing public sector pay through 2013, hiking taxes and cutting welfare benefits in return for the financial rescue package from other European countries and the International Monetary Fund which was agreed Thursday.
Austerity policies have also triggered strikes in Greece and Ireland, two other ailing eurozone countries which took bailouts last year.