Spanish firefighters set fires in the street and scuffled with police in Barcelona on Wednesday during protests against budget cuts that they say are threatening public safety.
Hundreds of firefighters in yellow helmets and red jackets gathered in front of the Catalonia regional parliament, some letting off firecrackers and smoke bombs, and set fire to model coffins marked "public services".
There were light scuffles and police charged the protestors, detaining one, police and labour unions said. Police moved in with extinguishers and put out some of the burning coffins.
The demonstration struck as the parliament was debating this year's regional campaign to prevent forest fires, a major threat during the dry summer. Several people were killed last year.
Labour unions representing the firefighters warned in a statement that cuts to staff and budgets in the economic crisis "put at risk the safety of workers and the people of Catalonia".
They said the plan involves "a big reduction in resources and above all an increase in the workload on staff".
The unions also complained that this year the emergency summer fire plan had been cut to cover just July and August, where previously it extended into June and September.
"There would have been more public calm if we had dispensed with firefighting aircraft and kept on more employees, but I would not have had a clear conscience," said the regional interior minister, Ramon Espadaler.
© 2013 AFP
Meet the most eligible internationals in Spain at Expatica Date!
It's as easy as 1-2-3!
Access Numbers now for all your international calls. Same quality, lower rates. And best of all, you can start calling immediately. No signup, no registration. Try it now!
Expatica's Getting Started section will provide practical information on how you can open a bank account, exchange your driving licence, improve your Spanish, and more.
Here's a guide to an extensive list of groups and clubs in Madrid for expats, from sports groups to social and family gatherings.
A brief introduction to our Tax section for Spain, from help with inheritance tax to accounting advice.
Here's a short introduction to our Banking section for those living in Spain, from what to ask the experts to opening a Spanish bank account.