The platform is organising a 'concentration of police' for outside the parliarmentary building on Wednesday next week (January 24) at 5.30pm. Image: Carlos M Almeida/ Lusa

Government accused of bending truth over police salaries

Unions dismiss figures put forward by Ministry of Internal Administration

With protests by police forces sweeping the country – and supported by their top brass – the government sought on Monday evening to put out a press release suggesting it had increased spending on police salaries by 32.6% since 2015.

The platform of PSP and GNR syndicates and associations have countered that release, saying the “data does not accurately reflect reality

In a statement released today, the platform explains that the figures put forward by the Ministry of Internal Affairs were due to payments, coercively ordered by the courts, of amounts unpaid between 2010 and 2018.

“Part of this amount relates to past budgets and not to any increases. It is police money that the Ministry decided to take away from the police and military during those years,” explains the platform, which includes, among other organisations, the National Police Union, the Trade Union Association of Police Professionals (ASPP/PSP), the Association of Guard Professionals (APG) and the Independent Socio-Professional Association of the Guard (ASPIG/GNR).

In other words – and the reason for such widespread adherence to current protests – the path and reality that the security forces have experienced in these eight years of Socialist governance has been “quite different” from that reflected in the government’s figures.

In the note, the platform states that the annual increases of 5% “do not represent any appreciation different from that which has been set for the public sector workers in general”.

To be fair, the ministry’s press release did not have the right ring to it. It referred to an increase of €426 million in the budget for security forces’ salaries since 2015, citing an increase in pay levels for the GNR and PSP beyond those paid to the rest of the Civil Service. Had this truly been the case, the sense of outrage among the forces – and the support of their hierarchies – would not have been so overwhelming. The truth is Portugal’s PS government has frequently been accused of creating its own narrative, when it needs to.

In this case, the platform explains the meal allowance and the uniform allowance (which have nothing to do with salaries) were lumped into the calculations, “ representing more than €332 million over the last eight years”.

The platform went on to shoot down various other claims made in the press statement while news today is that the PSP and GNR commands are taking their forces’ claims to ‘the highest level’ as they completely support them.

The protests by police forces began after the government agreed to increase PJ judicial police salary payments, without increasing those for the rest of the country’s security forces. ND

Source material: LUSA