Around three thousand off-duty police officers rallied outside the Interior Ministry in the Spanish capital to protest austerity measures and budget cuts that will see their Christmas bonuses hit the chopping block.
Plain-clothes police donning blue caps blocked the central Paseo de la Castellana Boulevard in Madrid on Saturday as they demonstrated against the latest round of cuts outside the Interior Ministry.
Their on-duty colleagues looked on as the protesters, some wrapped up in the Spanish flag, chanted and lobbed fireworks into the air.
One protester needed medical treatment after a firework he had intended to throw went off in his hand.
Like all Spanish civil service workers, police are on the front line of the country’s battle to get the debt crisis under control.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government revealed a 2013 austerity budget earlier this month as the country remains mired in its second recession in three years.
Starting the first of January, police will see a reduction in supplementary holidays and a wage cuts when they take sick leave, along with the elimination of their Christmas bonus.
“We came to express our anger at the way the government treats us, not only because they have removed Christmas bonuses, but also because they are eliminating our rights,” Fran Estacio, a 33-year-old officer from Valencia, in eastern Spain, told AFP.
Unemployment hit a record 25 per cent this week, the highest rate since the Franco dictatorship ended nearly four decades ago. The government further expects the economy to contract by 0.5 per cent next year, though independent estimates put that figure much higher.