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SPIES

French spies to stage labour protest

The main union representing French domestic intelligence officers, those charged with counter-espionage and anti-terror investigations, called Wednesday on its members to stage a protest.

French spies to stage labour protest

The head of the SNOP union, which represents senior police officers and is the main labour body for members of the DCRI security agency, said his members planned a “gathering” at their Paris headquarters on Friday.

Union secretary general Jean-Marc Bailleul said his members were protesting “human resources management” at the spy agency, and in particular the recent naming of a senior administrator to a post normally held by a field agent.

A smaller union said it wanted no part in the protest, and it was not clear how many of the agency’s 4,000 intelligence officers planned to take part.

The head of the DCRI, Bernard Squarcini, said he had resolved the dispute by closing an administrative post in the anti-terror divisions and giving it to a “field-tested officer” from the ranks represented by SNOP.

Bailleul said his union would reject any attempt by agency outsiders to make political capital out of the internal labour dispute, at a time when France is in the midst of a tense presidential election campaign.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is running for re-election, made it a priority to reform the DCRI, which his government set up as a merger of the former DST domestic security service and RG political police.

But he has also been criticised for allegedly being too close to Squarcini, who is under judicial investigation over allegations he illegally ordered surveillance on a journalist from Le Monde newspaper.

STRIKES

French customs officers strike over job cuts

Customs officers across France will walk out on Thursday in protest at job cuts that unions say will “weaken the customs network”.

French customs officers strike over job cuts

The national strike on Thursday, March 10th is expected to lead to delays at ports, airports and on the Eurostar.

The strike, which will include a rally outside the National Assembly building in Paris, was called by the CFDT-Douane and has the support of other unions. 

A work-to-rule protest over pay and conditions by customs officers in 2019, under the shadow of Brexit, led to delays and disruption at airports, as well as ports including Calais and Dunkirk, and on Eurostar trains.

Unions are calling on the government to axe plans to switch responsibility for import duty collection to the Direction Générale des Finances Publiques by 2024, at the cost of 700 customs’ officer jobs – and, according to strikers, tens of billions of euros to State coffers.

“We are asking for the reforms to be stopped, mainly that of the transfer of taxation, which is disorganising the network with the elimination of nearly a thousand jobs,” CFDT-Douane’s secretary general David-Olivier Caron said.

The planned job cuts come after years of restructuring and streamlining that has seen thousands of positions disappear, the unions say, when customs fraud and smuggling is rising because of a lack of resources.

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