Police plan mass demonstration

MARCH 14 may be marked by one of the biggest protests of recent years, when more than 10,000 police officers are expected to demonstrate against the government in locations throughout the country. Police agents will protest against the loss of benefits and the new government rules regarding retirement and pensions. Agents are also looking to receive payment for trips to attend court hearings in their own personal time and for overtime.

The largest concentration of numbers is expected at Terreiro do Paço in Lisbon, where representatives from various PSP and GNR unions will deliver petitions to the Ministry for Internal Administration. However, several other groups of police agents are due to gather in front of the civil governments of Porto, Coimbra and Faro and in front of the regional governmental buildings in the Azores and Madeira (Angra do Heroísmo and Funchal respectively).

The objective of the police unions for March 14, according to António Ramos, president of the Sindicato dos Profissionais de Polícia da PSP, the union of PSP professionals, is to bring together those police on duty on that day to the nearest demonstration area in all the districts in the country. “We already have more than 20,000 signatures, collected over the past month, and we intend to collect many more by March 14,” he said. “We are the civil servants who receive the worst health benefits and the Minister for Internal Administration (António Costa) does not even have five minutes to meet with us.”

Around 1,000 members of the Associação Sócio-profissional Independente da Guarda, an independent association representing GNR officers, will join the protest at various locations throughout the country.

On the same day that the demonstration date was confirmed by unions, the Secretary of State for Internal Affairs, José Magalhães, announced that a new indemnity regime would soon be in force, benefiting police who are injured while on duty. He also divulged that tenders have already been instigated to acquire bullet-proof vests and to upgrade the guns currently in use by the security forces. The news was announced earlier this week when Magalhães was in Aveiro to open a new PSP unit.