Prime minister António Costa was booed and heckled by off-duty police as he arrived in Porto airport this week to mark a contract for new trains for the city’s Metro.
The protest – beefed by the presence of the ‘rogue’ Movimento Zero – was just one of a number held throughout the country and in the archipelagos of Madeira and Azores.
Despite the government’s so-called blueprint for the future (involving promises of up to 10,000 more personnel by 2023), the forces of the GNR and PSP are not happy.
Their demands – resulting from what they claim to be a total lack of respect for the job they perform – centre on across-the-board pay increases of €500 per month for new recruits, and the supply of basic equipment with which to perform their duties.
Right now, explain syndicate leaders, an incoming agent expected to put his or her life on the line ‘in the name of duty’ starts on a baseline pay of just €750 per month, and has to buy simple things that should be supplied by the State, like gloves, torches, even handcuffs .
If the Ministry of Interior Administration increased these salaries to €1250 and started paying a risk subsidy, “this would be considered a good place to start”, ASPP/PSP syndicate leader Paulo Rodrigues told reporters.
Rodrigues was outside parliament in Lisbon where the protest there saw seven syndicates deliver a letter stating two forces’ demands to Finance Minister Mário Centeno.
Negotiation with the government are ongoing – with new dates for meetings set for February – but the executive’s position this far has been that no changes to any public sector pay scales will be announced before the passing of the State Budget.
It’s a stance that is infuriating civil servants unions, all of whom have threatened their own forms of retaliation.
In the case of police, syndicate representatives stress they will be meeting again soon to “decide new forms of protest”.
As for Movimento Zero – a kind of ‘hard cell’ within the various security forces – Minister for Internal Administration Eduardo Cabrita has already said there will be no negotiations.
On national television recently he dismissed the movement as “a marginal force” by dint of its members acting in anonymity.
“Anonymous movements are undemocratic”, said Cabrita. “We negotiate with syndicates…”
Members of the group, asked to ‘move on’ in Porto on Tuesday after overshadowing the PM’s arrival at Sá Carneiro airport, told reporters: “We are not vandals, nor are we marginal”.
In Faro, a small protest took place in the Jardim Manuel Bivar.