Cuts protests paralyze Greek courts, hospitals

An EU and a Greek flag fly in front of ancient Parthenon temple, in Athens, Sunday, June 17, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Petros Giannakouris

ATHENS, Greece - Judges and hospital doctors in Greece have begun what they intend to be lengthy protests against planned austerity measures, the most serious confrontation between unions and government since a three-party coalition was formed three months ago.

Starting Monday and for the next two weeks, judges are only handling cases considered to be emergencies, in response to expected salary cuts.

State hospital doctors also started an indefinite protest, treating emergency cases only, over unpaid overtime pay. They joined private doctors who earlier this month began refusing to treat state-insured patients without full payment.

The government is trying to finalize an €11.5 billion ($15 billion) austerity package required for continued emergency rescue loans. Unions are angry at the new cuts and have called a general strike for Sept. 26.