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  • Police officers hold a banner that reads 'We Demand Respect' in Lisbon, Portugal, Nov. 21, 2019.

    Police officers hold a banner that reads 'We Demand Respect' in Lisbon, Portugal, Nov. 21, 2019. | Photo: EFE

Published 21 November 2019
Opinion

They are also asking for risk subsidies and sanitary improvements at their facilities.

Shouting "Zero Tolerance", thousands of members of the Public Security Police (PSP) and the Republican National Guard (GNR) on Thursday gathered outside the Parliament in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, to demand higher salaries and better working conditions.

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"We ask for salary increases, risk subsidies, and sanitary improvements at our facilities," the Union of Police Professionals president Paulo Macedo said and explained that "half of the PSP facilities contain asbestos. Our suicide rate doubles that of other professions."

Currently, the entry-level salary for a police officer in Portugal is 789 euros, compared to 1,309 euros for an equivalent position in Poland and 1,309 euros in France.

"I was promoted to Chief 20 years ago and my core salary has not changed since then," said 52-year-old policeman Ismael Duarte, who mentioned that he earns about 1,500 euros a month.

"Portugal is one of the world's safest countries; however, it mistreats its law enforcement. We deserve more respect," police Antonio Barreira said.

Applause and whistles start the police demonstration

The government headed by Prime Minister Antonio Costa said that it supported the police's right to protest and was paying "close attention" to their demands.

Unions and government will enter talks in the first half of 2020 to review investment into the force. They are also negotiating over access to healthcare for the police.

In Nov. 2013, at the peak of the financial crisis, Portugal's officers broke through a police cordon around parliament to occupy its broad marble staircase.

Four months later, a group of prison guards clashed with police outside parliament, injuring ten.

This year, local authorities placed cement blocks around parliament and erected higher railings than in previous years in order to prevent similar scenes.

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