AROUND 3,000 police officers have gathered in Malaga to demand equal pay with their regional counterparts.
The protest took place in Plaza de la Constitucion, with officers waving banners saying, “it’s now or never.” They claim the issue came to a head after police from all over Spain were drafted in to help out with the constitutional crisis in Catalonia, highlighting the disparity in pay between officers from different areas. One officer said, “the wage discrimination was there before, it is an old issue, but from that day it went from being a police problem to one for all of society. That’s why it’s now or never. We will never have such social backing again.”
They claim police in the Guardia Civil are paid €1,350 a month, while their equivalents in Catalonia are paid around €2,000 on average a month. In addition, offices are claiming they are subject to overcrowding and “terrible” hygiene and food.
The Guardia Civil are not the only public workers with a grievance over pay and conditions with members of Malaga’s fire force have been striking since early this year.
The council has said it is prepared to negotiate with the fire men to redraft a document regulating fire workers’ conditions, dating from 1959. The document will see issues including training, shifts and fire stations renegotiated.
The strike had been ongoing in the province for nine months, leading to a potential criminal case for 60 firefighters who ignored calls to attend five blazes in one day.
The Malaga prosecutor’s office has referred the matter to a judge who will now decide whether the workers are guilty of abandoning their office, a matter punishable by up to two years’ suspension from work and fines.
According to reports, on June 27 five fires broke out simultaneously around the province. Sixty-one firemen were all called and asked to come to work but only one turned up. Twelve said they could not because of child care or doctor’s appointments, three said they were out of the area, one refused to go, two were on leave and the other 42 did not pick up their phones or return the call.
In the end, Provincial firefighters and Infoca workers were left to tackle the blazes in La Corta, Campanillas, Asperones, Monte Dorado and Atabal.