Defiant Civil Guards march for higher pay

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Despite being warned that they may be dismissed, Civil Guard officers marched with national police to demand for a pay rise and better working conditions.

20 October 2008

MADRID -- Thousands of national police and Civil Guard officers marched together for the first time on Saturday to protest their working conditions and demand a pay rise. The Madrid protest drew 7,000 marchers according to the Interior Ministry and 25,000 according to organisers.

The march was a clear act of defiance for the Civil Guard, whose members are prohibited from staging public protests because of their status as a military institution.

The Interior Ministry had warned that the consequences of violating this rule could include sanctions, investigations and even dismissals.

But several Civil Guard representatives were in plain view at the head of the march Saturday, holding signs reading "We want economic and professional dignity."

According to a Civil Guard spokesman, as many as 3,000 officers took part in the protest. "The threats issued by the Interior minister [Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba] only served as an incentive," said Alberto Moya.

Both the Civil Guards and the national police are demanding that their pay be equated to that of their counterparts serving in regional police bodies, such as the Basque Ertzaintza or the Catalan Mossos d'Escuadra. National police officers make up to 30 percent less money for doing the same job, according to police unions.

The main opposition Popular Party said it will ask Rubalcaba to explain the situation in Congress on Monday.

[El Pais / Expatica]

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