A YEAR after first going on strike Malaga’s firemen have still not returned to work.
The labour dispute over working conditions continues without any progress in negotiations according to the fire department. One spokesman said, “the summary of the year is that we have made zero progress.”
The strike has caused a series of controversies over the year with a Malaga councillor condemning firemen in October for not taking part in new training courses while on strike.
Councillor for Security, Mario Cortes, said the men had other ways of taking industrial action “without endangering the safety of residents.” He added, “how do you explain to the public who have asked for flood specialists for years that they will not attend the training sessions a month after the rainy season begins.”
He claimed the firefighters had crossed “a red line they thought they would not cross,” adding unions should, “ask for reason. These are courses other cities want to join in on. Let’s hope they handle this so that the security of citizens in not affected.” A spokesman for the firemen hit back, however, saying, “we do not want to be criminalised. This is the only opportunity we have to strike without citizens being harmed.”
A further 60 firefighters have been forced to defend themselves for failing to attend five blazes in one day in June.
The Malaga prosecutor’s office referred the matter to a judge who will 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.
A court will now decide whether the men broke the “minimum services” conditions of their strike terms.