Disgruntled French police to stage day of protest as anger mounts

French police are being urged close police stations on Wednesday as part of a protest over pay and conditions - including a demand to be paid the 23 million hours of overtime they are owed - as the government scrambles to quell growing unrest among the country's forces of law and order.

Disgruntled French police to stage day of protest as anger mounts
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 and only answer emergency calls as they fight for better working conditions and pay.

Talks were held between police unions and the Interior Minister Christophe Castaner on Tuesday but they failed to find a solution to quell the anger.

On Wednesday, when talks will continue, police unions have urged members to “do the minimum” meaning only respond to emergencies. They have also been encouraged to block the entrances of local police stations (commissariats).

“Faced with this irresponsibility [of the government], we are forced to be irresponsible in our actions,” said police union leader Frédéric Lagache.

One police union is promising action in January.

Police union Alliance is calling for a “black day for the police” in France on December 19th.
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. They warn the government that there will be an “Act II” and an “Act III” if their concerns are treated seriously.
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. 
“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.” 
Police officers in France are reportedly owed a total of 23 million hours in overtime – some €275 million. The figures is for overtime worked months and even years ago but the figure which has ballooned in recent weeks due to the yellow vest protests.
Interior Minister Castaner warned that it would take time to find the solutions and the money needed t satisfy police demands but urged unions to focus n talks and not protests.
“It is in a spirit of dialogue and mutual trust that we will provide concrete responses to our security forces,” he said.
The protests by the “blue vests” as they have been dubbed, come just as the gilets jaunes movement appears to have calmed.
But police officers, despite having to face off with the yellow vest protesters each week as demonstrations and marches turned violent, have had sympathy with the movement.
“Most cops have” yellow vests” among their close circles or at least people who sympathize with the movement, it's not easy to be on the other side of the barricade every day,” a police source told Le Monde newspaper..

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Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

A Frenchwoman and a Spaniard were killed and nine other mountaineers were injured on Friday in an ice fall in southwest Switzerland, police said following a rescue attempt involving several helicopters.

Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

Police received calls at 6.20 am reporting that mountaineers had been caught up in falling seracs — columns of glacial ice formed by crevasses — on the Grand Combin, a glacial massif near the Italian border in the Wallis region.

Seven helicopters with mountain rescue experts flew to the scene, finding 17 mountaineers split among several groups.

“Two people died at the scene of the accident,” Wallis police said in a statement. They were a 40-year-old Frenchwoman and a 65-year-old man from Spain.

Nine mountaineers were airlifted to hospitals in nearby Sion and in Lausanne. Two of them are seriously injured, police said.

Other mountaineers were evacuated by helicopter.

The regional public prosecutor has opened an investigation “to determine the circumstances of this event”, the police said.

The serac fall happened at an altitude of 3,400 metres in the Plateau de Dejeuner section along the Voie du Gardien ascent route.

The Grand Combin massif has three summits above 4,000 metres, the highest of which is the Combin de Grafeneire at 4,314 metres.

The police issued a note of caution about setting off on such high-altitude expeditions.

“When the zero-degree-Celsius isotherm is around 4,000 metres above sea level, it is better to be extra careful or not attempt the route if in doubt,” Wallis police said.

“The golden rule is to find out beforehand from the mountain guides about the chosen route and its current feasibility.”