Municipal firefighters to protest against new pay structure

By TPN/Lusa, in News · 17-01-2019 08:51:00 · 0 Comments
Municipal firefighters to protest against new pay structure

Portugal’s municipal professional firefighters are on Thursday morning to gather in Lisbon for a national protest in front of the cabinet office, to be timed to coincide with the government’s weekly cabinet meeting.

The protest is against the government's proposal to regulate the career of professional firefighters, which they say represents "a huge devaluation [and] does not respect the importance" of these professionals. The plan represents a very significant worsening of conditions for career progression and entry salaries, according to the Union of Workers in Local Administration (STAL), which called the protest.

"We have here a proposal that points to a very significant reduction of the entry position [into the profession], of about two hundred euros [a month], and excludes supplements,” José Correia of STAL told Lusa. “These workers, who have to undergo training, who have a profession of permanent risk without any supplement for their degree of availability, will enter [the profession] with a salary that, in net terms, is even lower than the national minimum wage.”

The union officer described the proposal as "totally inadmissible", given that firefighters must have a degree of preparedness and readiness for relief operations that requires a very specific profile and training.

According to Correia, firefighters used to benefit from [up to] three supplements for risk, availability and hardship.

"What has happened is that the government decided to harmonise the same conditions and folded the supplements into basic salary,” he explained. “In practice, everyone began to earn a certain salary that included the same supplements for all, to end the possibility of some receiving a supplement and others receiving another."

At present, he pointed out, with these supplements included in basic salary, an entry-level municipal fireman earns €700 a month. If these supplements were excluded - which, for example, for Lisbon sappers would be about €120 to €130, the net salary would be around €570 or so, where the current minimum wage is €600.

There are, he noted, two different fire departments, the municipal firefighters and the sappers, with the latter having a better structured career with better pay.

"What the government proposes now is a single career, but levelling down,” he said.

According to STAL, the government proposal reduces the salaries of sappers’ fire chiefs and, in both cases, career progression will be slower.

On the other hand, "firefighters currently have an exceptional retirement regime at the age of 50", although they can carry on in certain jobs.

"This is to rise to 60,” he noted. “And the question the firefighters put is: whom will a 60-year-old fireman rescue? Who needs to be rescued? Perhaps it is the fireman, who no longer has the physical dexterity that the profession requires at the age of 60.”

According to STAL, the protest is to take place during the cabinet meeting, which is scheduled to start at 9.30 am.


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