The SPGS firefighters’ union organised a rally on 16 February in protest at proposed changes to the public sector pay system that would adversely affect its members. A significant compression of the pay structure would leave firefighters in the bottom tenth of the grades rather than the top third as now. There are also concerns about the suspension of promotion and performance bonuses. The SPGS argues that firefighters are not being treated on an equal basis in relation to other, comparable jobs or professional groups.
Firefighters’ union organises protest over pay
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The STAL and STML trade unions that represent firefighters organised a national protest in Lisbon on 3 December to challenge the government over changes to the statutes that regulate pay and conditions in the sector. The trade unions had already registered their anger with the government over its failure to negotiate with them. The government did agree to meet the unions but they rejected its proposals for change because they threatened to undermine firefighters' pay, pensions and career progression.
The three main firefighter unions - FP CGIL VVF, FNS CISL and UIL PA VVF - organised a day of protests and strike action on 15 November with a range of demands. They want to see the work of firefighters properly recognised in terms of both pay and social protection. They also want action on health and safety, particularly in relation to the occupational risks and diseases they face. The unions want the government to ensure adequate funding not just for the renewal of the collective agreement but also to boost recruitment. Further action was planned for 21 November.
A national demonstration by firefighters took place on 14 January as they continued their campaign against unilateral action by the government to change their employment conditions. This follows the strike that ran from 19 December to 2 January (see previous epsucob@NEWS). The unions involved argue that the proposed changes undermine career development in the fire service and retirement rights. They are particularly angry that the government has attempted to introduce the changes without any consultation or negotiation.