PSP/ GNR agents in first “protest in uniform” in 34 years

Fury over discriminatory pay shows no sign of calming 

Police up and down the country are maintaining vigils outside police stations/ outside parliament as simmering fury over discriminatory pay scales has come to the boil.

According to tabloid reports, it took the stand by one PSP officer, Pedro Costa, who has been protesting outside parliament since Sunday night to fire up colleagues in both his own force, and the GNR (national republican guard). His example ‘worked’: last night, there were around 30 agents sleeping on the pavement outside parliament.

“There is no sight of an end to the protests”, writes Correio da Manhã today. “Yesterday a mass presence was being planned of elements of the PSP and GNR in parliament”.

The last time police ‘revolted’ outside parliament was 1989, in an episode known as‘Secos e Molhados’. At the time, their demands were for freedom of association, a weekly day off, transparency in disciplinary justice with the right of defence and better conditions.

Since then there has never been a protest by police in their uniforms. Indeed, in 2019, Lisbon’s Administrative Court outlawed such actions, ruling they were “not legally permitted”.

“But yesterday no police agent requested authorisation to demonstrate”, says CM. “At 3pm, in police stations ranging from Bragança to Tavira, Viana do Castelo to Portalegre, Funchal (Madeira) and Porto, thousands of uniformed police took to the streets in a silent protest, in a clear demonstration of strength and union that has never been seen in Portugal”.

The issue with this protest is that the top brass is on board. Even president Marcelo, in approving a government diploma giving PJ police  ‘special treatment’ (ie cash bonuses) over and above regimes governing PSP/ GNR and the Armed Forces, warned of the “discrepancy of amounts to be earned by some compared to others.

“Despite the reasonableness of the measures contained in these laws, their approval by the government immediately sparked a real wave of dissatisfaction and protest on the part of the unions and associations representing other classes of the Security Forces, in particular over the alleged unequal treatment of the Security Forces. There was also public protest from associations in the Armed Forces, as well as workers in the general careers of the Judicial Police. The president of the Republic is thus drawing the attention of the government that will come in after the next legislative elections to the justifiable dissatisfaction of these organisations”, said Marcelo.

Another notable aspect of this upset is that it appears to exemplify the impression that government ministers do indeed live in another world. The minister responsible for the country’s police forces (José Luís Carneiro) has spent a lot of time in recent days talking about how much the government is spending on its police forces (claims the forces themselves are playing down). He has also said that there is a possibility of the PSP/ GNR subsidies being increased, referring that such an increase would require “a financial effort of €75 million”. ND

Source material: Correio da Manhã/ SIC Notícias