GUARDIA Civil agents in Ibiza are forced to sleep in their cars due to soaring rent prices as the island’s dire housing crisis is exposed.
Officials said nine officers took sick leave when assigned to Ibiza airport last summer as a lack of accommodation forced them to sleep in their vehicles.
According to Ivan Fidalgo, Ibiza representative for the Spanish Assocation of Guardia Civil Agents (AEGC), the law enforcement body had to ‘resort’ to ‘forcibly’ sending 85 interns to the island as ‘no one else wanted to go’.
The interns were assigned to Ibiza for two years and the association remains in contact, but the rental situation on the party island is so dire that one of the young Guardia Civil agents called Fidalgo ‘crying’ because ‘she didn’t want to sleep in her car’.
“Unfortunately, this is normal,” he confessed.
However, the intern was not alone.
Last summer, some nine agents had to take ‘psychological’ sick leave as low salaries and high rental demand forced them to sleep in their cars.
He said: “They earn less than €1000 and it’s just absurd.”
According to the Ibiza delegate, salaries have not been adjusted ‘in line with current prices’ in the last 20 years despite demands from workers.
Now, Fidalgo is urging the central government to get involved.
A motion to improve the law surrounding Guardia Civil working conditions is currently under debate in the Spanish parliament.
Without their support, says Fidalgo, the situation ‘cannot change’.
He said: “They don’t know what’s going on or don’t want to know. It’s a disgrace.”
The minister of the interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, visited Ibiza in April and according to Fidalgo ‘made promises, but nothing has changed.’
He claims the island only has 50-60% of the Guardia Civil presence it should have and that those present are in ‘very bad shape’ due to the poor working conditions.
Such is the pressure on the forces, officers often have to pick between urgent calls.
“One day, there will be blood on their hands,” he warned.
Large queues often form outside Guardia Civil stations as officers have been forced to patrol or go on traffic duty due to the lack of staff.
This leads to agents working unpaid overtime.
The situation only gets worse in summer or over the festive period, when agents take annual leave.
Recent legislation regulating shift work has only slightly improved working conditions, says Fidalgo.
He said: “It has improved officers’ work-life balance.
“But no team in Ibiza has implemented it yet and we will see how long it takes.”
The Ibiza delegate also compared the working conditions of the Guardia Civil to the National Police, saying: “They are years ahead of us, we can’t go from 0 to 100.”