Blue vests: Fatigued French police to launch their own protests and blockades

Blue vests: Fatigued French police to launch their own protests and blockades
Photo: AFP
After the yellow vests, it's now the turn of the blue vests (gilets bleus) to show their anger as French police unions are calling on officers to picket France's police stations on Wednesday as they fight for better working conditions and pay.
Police in France have repeatedly warned about fatigue and frustration seeping into the ranks in recent years and it appears the month-long and often violent yellow vest protests has pushed them over the edge.
They have already warned the government that they are at breaking point and on Wednesday they will launch their own protest movement, which has earned them the title “les gilets bleus”  – the blue vests, after the protective body gear that they wear.
Police union Alliance is calling for a “black day for the police” in France on December 19th, asking officers to down their tools and picket the country's police stations. 
On Twitter and Facebook the union has called on officers to join the so-called “act 1” of the police protests, using the name given to the demonstrations by the gilets jaunes
Alliance has voiced its opposition to the upcoming budget which it says will see conditions worsen for the country's police force at a time when its already beleaguered officers say they have reached “breaking point”
On Tuesday the French government said it would pay a one-off bonus of €300 to all those officers who were deployed for the “yellow vest” protests. I's unclear whether this will be enough to pacify the police.


Photo: AFP

“This Thursday, December 20th, the National Assembly is set to adopt the 2019 budget for the security forces and in particular the police budget,” said Alliance. 
“This budget sees a drop of €62 million of investment in the National Police, which will mean that once again our working conditions deteriorate.”
The union went on to say: “Despite our repeated appeals to the President of the Republic to announce an emergency plan for the security forces, so far nothing has been said.” 
The union has called for the country's police to “only respond to emergency calls” throughout the day on Wednesday, adding that if a significant effort to address their concerns was not seen from January 1st 2019 then other types of action would follow. 
Meanwhile the UNSA police union, which initially demanded to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron, is set to meet with France's Interior Minister Christophe Castaner on Tuesday evening. 
Castaner said on Monday that he meet the representatives from the national police “in a spirit of dialogue and mutual trust.”
Another union Alternative Police has denounced the call by the Alliance union whilst echoing their grievances.
Denis Jacob from Alternative wants unions to show a united front and has called for action in January if talks with the government fail.
According to a senate committee report released this year, France's police force is “in crisis” due to the combined strain of terror attacks, the migrant crisis and terrible working conditions.
Photo: AFP
According to the report, the police force in France faces terrible working conditions including gruelling hours as it is more in demand than ever due to terror attacks and the migrant crisis. 
The report states that police have to work irregular schedules and only get one weekend out of five off. 
It is believed that the stress created by this environment is partly to blame for the devastatingly high suicide rate among police which is 36 percent higher than the rest of the population. 
And naturally the recent weeks of protests by the 'yellow vest' movement, which started largely peacefully before growing increasingly violent, and the Strasbourg attack, which took place last Tuesday, have served to highlight the issues faced by the country's police.
On Saturday French police sent a stark warning to the government after another weekend of violence in cities around the country left them “at breaking point”.
For the last three Saturday's they have come under a hail of cobblestones and bottles, had fireworks aimed at them and at times simply been given the run around by rioters and looters. 
Although their response to violence has not always been exemplary as some videos on social media can attest to the French police say they are tired of being the punchbag for Macron and his government.

Member comments

  1. You can always count on the unions to mess things up.
    They are responsible for (organizing) the Yellows and the Police.

  2. Dear Chez Moi, and you think there’s nothing wrong with this despicable government? The “Yellows” were right to demonstrate, and the Police have also been treated badly by this terrible government. Macron must go! He favours the rich and the poor have to suffer. The Unions help people, they don’t “mess things up”. This government has messed things up!

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