Unions warn events may not be able to go ahead, particularly in villages and Orihuela Costa

The unions of the Orihuela Local Police have announced that their officers are not going to work any overtime or work the established hours to cover events until an agreement is reached over a series of improvements they have been proposing for several years.

In a statement they warned they are also considering “more serious measures which for the moment will not be applied”. The unions explained “we have been trying to negotiate with the Town Hall for years but so far nothing has been resolved”.

Their demands are as follows: Restore the 10 vacant places and take on as many additional officers as possible under the law to meet needs; Scrap the process to hire Mobility Officers and use the money to create new Police Officers. Regarding part-time officers, they demand equal pay on different scales, a regulation to cover second jobs, compliance with agreed working conditions, a committee to negotiate, establishment of minimum hours.

Councillor Mariola Rocamora said the system for covering events (sport, culture, social and fiestas) is vital to guarantee people’s safety and was agreed to by unions, allowing officers to volunteer for six hour shifts during the year and be paid €207 for each one.

She indicated the law allows large towns to appoint council workers who are not police as Mobility Agents to direct traffic.

The union reps met with Councillor Rafael Almagro on Friday as a first step towards starting negotiations.

“Not working extra shifts will mean less officers are available each day and at weekends,” explained SPPLB union rep Francisco Cánovas. “If there are not enough then activities will have to be postponed unless somebody wants to take responsibility in case something happens.”

The police force currently has about 140 officers but the unions calculate more than 200 are needed to cover the whole municipality.

They say the creation of Mobility Officers to direct traffic “makes no sense” because they could not issue fines and so “would be like any citizen who can call us if they see a drunk driver but cannot fine them”.

Another meeting has been scheduled for next week.