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Greek Workers Choose Working Without Pay Over No Work At All

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Greek workers do not deserve the lazy stereotype. Workers at the Henry Dunant Hospital in Athens have been working without pay during 2012, the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> and CNBC report.
Greek workers do not deserve the lazy stereotype. Workers at the Henry Dunant Hospital in Athens have been working without pay during 2012, the Wall Street Journal and CNBC report.

A growing number of Greek workers are facing a stark choice: Work for no pay, or risk never getting paid again.

An increasing number of Greek companies and institutions cannot pay their employees, creditors, and others because they aren't being paid either -- particularly by the government and other businesses, the Wall Street Journal reports. For example, the 1,150 employees of the Henry Dunant Hospital in Athens are still working, even though they haven't been paid for the work they have done in 2012.

Many Greek workers are continuing to work without pay because they would likely not be able to find a better job. More than one in five Greeks are unemployed, and many companies in Greece are shutting down or shrinking.

That's because Greece has been trapped in a depression. The Greek economy shrank at an annualized rate of 6.5 percent in the first three months of 2012. The eurozone and International Monetary Fund have forced Greece to slash its budget to keep receiving loans, which has caused unemployment to spike and consumer spending to collapse. Investors are also pulling their money out of Greece in anticipation of a possible Greek exit from the euro, which would probably cause remaining money to lose much of its value.

The Greek government owes $24.8 million to the Henry Dunant Hospital's owner, the Greek Red Cross, making it difficult for the organization to meet its obligations, according to the WSJ.

The hospital's new managers have negotiated a 15 percent pay cut with the hospital's union, but the hospital still can't pay its workers, even at their reduced salaries because it needs more financing, according to CNBC.

It's not just Greek hospital employees that are working without pay. Eleftherotypia, one of Greece's largest newspapers, has not paid its staffers since August. Still, 71 percent of their staff -- 600 in all -- continue to work there, according to CNBC.

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