The FSC-CCOO and FeSP-UGT public service federations representing forest firefighters say they will launch a campaign of strikes and protests unless the government and the autonomous regions deliver legislation that really protects the rights and conditions of this essential group of workers. The unions warn that action is needed urgently in the light of the surge in serious and large forest fires this summer. They argue that the legislation put forward on 25 August does not fully address the demands of the unions for homogenous working conditions covering training, salary structure, professional classification, job security and social protection. The unions are also calling for an end to precarious employment in the sector and better coordination across the regions.
Union set to mobilise over forest firefighters’ rights and conditions
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In a timely intervention, the FSC-CCOO has called on the government to put more resources into the prevention and fighting of forest fires - an issue which the union sees has become one of the most urgent for the country and rural communities. Along with a strengthening of the fire service - increased employment, professionalisation and training - the union argues that more has to be done to take preventative measures, some of which could actually help to boost rural economies.
The Secretary of State for the Environment has told the FSC-CCOO and FeSP-UGT public service federations that he will present a draft statute covering forest firefighters to parliament for approval. This has been a long-standing demand of the trade unions who want to see common national provisions covering the wage structure, professional classifications, training, job security and social protection. The unions argue that this will professionalise the sector, help stabilise jobs and contribute to a better coordination across the autonomous regions.
With forest fires and flooding posing increasing demands on the fire service, the Fp Cgil public service union has called for employee numbers to be increased to 40000. The union argues that the current complement of 35000 is inadequate with many firefighters working double shifts, longer hours and more overtime. Fp Cgil says that excessive workloads leave workers no time for training and is worried that in the next negotiations the fire service will actually push for longer hours rather than address the staffing shortage. The union says that recruitment is crucial to reduce the average age