A GROUP of firefighters held a protest at the Town Hall in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, demanding that the Mayor hires more employees next year.
Alongside Pedro Castro from the CCOO workers’ union, protesters asked Mayor José Hila to guarantee the employment of at least five more people, to take the pressure off the fire brigade which is massively understaffed.
According to Castro, it is necessary to hire “about 40 more people” over the next four years. At present there are 117 firefighters in Palma, although “only 90 are operational”, since many are in secondary rather than frontline positions.
Hila did not want to commit to giving an employment figure for next year, claiming that the request must be discussed first at the negotiating table.
He reminded the group, made up of around 30 firefighters, that so far, “municipal efforts have focused on worker’s rights and salaries, which has cost a lot of money”, adding that “employment will be revived, although all departments are currently deficient”.
Castro expressed his fear that the Town Hall will outsource the fire service, with Hila responding that he “will never privatise the brigades”.
Tensions have been raging between the fire service and the Town Hall for several years, with the shortage of firefighters and an ageing workforce resulting in the Town Hall paying thousands of euros in overtime each month.
We at Euro Weekly News understand that the ideal ratio of one firefighter per 1,000 residents set by the Regional Government’s Emergencies Directorate is not achieved in Palma. In order to meet the European ideal, Palma would need 260 more firefighters.