Image: André Kosters/ Lusa

GNR ‘forest guards’ go on strike today, with demo planned outside ministry

“There are moments and moments to exercise the right to strike” – minister

No prizes today for GNR forest guards, who have decided to strike – in the middle of a national crisis affecting the very sector they are employed to protect.

The move, backed by the national federation of syndicates of public sector workers (FNSTFPS), is designed to force the government back to negotiating table over guards’ demands, hinging on salary increases and career structures.

Forest guards were transferred to the GNR’s SEPNA force (standing for ‘service for protection of nature and the environment’) in 2006. Their mission is to investigate and control any kind of illegal behaviour within the nation’s forests, including hunting and fishing.

The 500 guards are all “integrated within the Special Rural Fire Combat Force”, known as DECIR, and as such their presence on the front line today after a week in which firefighters and Civil Protection have been working flat out will be missed.

“There are moments and moments to exercise the right to strike and protest”, minister for the interior José Luís Carneiro has remarked, stressing the time for returning to the negotiating table will come, but it is not right now as the country is assailed by wildfire emergencies.

Today’s demo is scheduled to take place at midday, outside the Ministry of Internal Administration in Lisbon.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com