Thousands of officers from Spain's two nationwide police forces staged a peaceful protest this week near to the Congreso de los Diputados building in Madrid while parliament's lower house was debating a possible new law on guaranteeing equal pay for all police.
The debate was driven by a petition of half a million signatures asking MPs to match Guardia Civil and National Police pay to that of the regional police services and municipal-controlled Local Police forces.
Currently there are differences in salaries between different bodies of police, which have varying jurisdictions and responsibilities across Spain.
A campaign group made up of officers from both Guardia Civil and National Police, forces controlled by central government, has been arguing that regional forces, run by the autonomous devolved governments, get better pay. They want salaries to match the higher-paid Mossos d'Esquadra (in Catalonia), the Ertzainta (in the Basque Country), and some more fortunate town-hall-controlled Local Police.
MPs voted on Monday for a law to be drawn up that would see the same pay levels for all police forces across the country. Only nationalist MPs representing the Spanish regions voted against, saying that pay centralisation in Madrid went against regional competencies.
"Dignified work conditions"
An MP for Unidos Podemos and former Guardia Civil officer, Antonio Delgado, called in the debate for "dignified working conditions after many years of deceit and lies".
Ironically, one nationalist MP from Catalonia did speak out in favour of the Madrid-controlled forces. Feliu-Joan Guillaumes of PDeCAT said that the Guardia Civil was "one of the best forces around" and that the National Police had great professionals.
The two forces' representatives say that despite recent improvements they earn between 300 and 700 less a month than their regional police colleagues.