Image of sapper firefighters outside parliament today: José Sena Goulão/ Lusa
Image of sapper firefighters outside parliament today: José Sena Goulão/ Lusa

Hundreds of sapper firefighters stand outside parliament, demanding risk subsidy

Government’s ‘unequal treatment’ of professionals morphs into pre-election nightmare

Around 500 sapper firefighters have been standing outside parliament today, demanding the attribution of a ‘risk subsidy’ for a profession they claim is in ‘fast decline’.

Coming as this protest does on the heels of police forces’ demands for a risk subsidy commensurate with that offered PJ counterparts, the government’s unequal treatment of its professionals is rapidly morphing into a pre-election nightmare.

Today, police syndicates are mystified by the caretaker government’s insistence that it can do nothing to fix the “justifiable dissatisfaction” (in the words of President Marcelo) within the service over the way in which the government persists in treating it – and now sapper firefighters are out in force saying “we’re waiting for respect/ recognition and a risk subsidy too”.

Slogans hung on the gates outside parliament read: “There are no sapper firefighters without risk”, and “Parliament must burn…”

Just like the protests among police, this was one organised over social media, attracting sapper firefighters from all over the country. It has not been backed by any formal union structure – but is designed to put the service’s issues at the forefront of the election debate.

“This is not opportunism, it is all about timing”, a Lisbon sapper firefighter told Lusa. “We want political parties to be aware of the immense needs of our service“.

Sapper firefighters want an “effective” risk subsidy, and the recognition that the profession is in rapid decline.

Successive governments have not looked at these professionals with due acknowledgement and respect, Paulo Carvalho of Porto’s regiment of sappers told Lusa.

“Every time they have meddled with our statutes, and  with our career structures it has been to prejudice them (…) We have a risk-filled profession and we are constantly in hostile environments”.

The hundreds assembled outside parliament this afternoon have vowed to stay in place until 9pm this evening.

Today’s protest follows one at the weekend in which syndicate leaders concentrated outside Belém Palace to ask President Marcelo for his support in the struggle “for similar treatment as the government gives security forces” (or, more correctly put, for similar treatment as the government has given ONE of its security forces…) ND

Source material: LUSA