Firefighters to take indefinite strike to the streets
Tenerife firefighters are preparing to take to the streets as part of their indefinite strike.
The industrial action began on January 30th and protest marches are being planned, including in Santa Cruz on Friday, February 10th.
The trade union CC.OO says it called the strike because of major concerns over what they say are deficiencies in various areas such as staffing, training, materials and resources.
But answering concerns that there could be a catastrophe in the event of a major fire, plane crash, motorway pile-up, explosion or the like, island leaders say this would not be the case.
Spanish law says strikers have to maintain the minimum service and the Tenerife Fire Consortium says it is doing just that, having 44 staff on duty at any one time.
Security chief for Tenerife Cabildo Javier Rodríguez said in a “clear and categorical” way that the south of the island WAS safe.
A statement from the convenors also assured: “The-se minimum services will be established with 44 daily firefighters, the same number with daily operations, so that the normal functioning of all the work centres of the Consortium will not be affected.”
”The Tenerife Firefighters Consortium guarantees that this figure allows maintaining the provision of the service, while not impairing the exercise of the right to strike, since it coincides with the minimum daily staff endowments.”
Tenerife is said to have one fireman per 5,000 inhabitants. The national average is one for every 2,000, and in countries like Germany, this ratio is reduced to one per 800 inhabitants.
The Consortium is also unhappy about the proposed construction of a 1.2 million euro fire station in La Laguna to be manned by volunteers. They feel the money could be better spent elsewhere.
They have also expressed regret that there is only one fire station in the south of Tenerife (see full inside story), namely at San Miguel de Abona.
The firemen went on strike in Tenerife in 2008 and 2011 and the Consortium would like to know the exact terms of the agreement.
It has also asked the union to explain in detail what their grievances are so they can arrange to sit around a negotiating table with all parties concerned.
Tenerife Cabildo says progress is being made on a document for the provision of two new fire stations in the south of the island, specifically in the Güímar Valley and in the surroundings of the munici-palities of Arona-Adeje-Guía de Isora.
These would complement the current map of 13 fire stations distributed throughout the island, ie five professional fire stations and eight volunteer fire stations. Of the five professional stations, four are in the north.
The first steps of the dossier are to obtain the land for subsequent drafting of the projects, to tender the works, to execute them and to equip them with the human and material resources necessary for their effective operation.
The Cabildo says 2.8 million euros has been allocated and that the budget for the Fire Consortium this year was increased by two million euros.
Staffing had also been increased which in turn would reduce the amount of overtime existing fire personnel had to do.
Friday’s demonstration in Santa Cruz will see protest banners hung at the city’s fire station saying “Danger: each year less firefighters.” Sirens will be sounded and flares set off.
The fire brigade says this is deliberately planned to give more visible evidence to the strike as because of the requirement to give cover, people on the island might not realise they are taking industrial action or why.
So far, the striking firemen say official meetings have only been about maintaining minimum services and pro-viding adequate cover for the Carnival but nothing deeper.