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IN PICTURES: French police forensic staff stage ‘severed limbs’ protest

French forensic investigators set up a gruesome but staged crime scene in Paris - complete with bloodied bodies and dismembered limbs - in an eye-catching protest to demand the same labour benefits as their regular police colleagues.

IN PICTURES: French police forensic staff stage 'severed limbs' protest
All photos: AFP

Several hundred forensic police, many in white lab coats and blue gloves, took part in the demonstration on Wednesday, displaying banners and placards proclaiming “I am a cop”, and “My job is not dangerous, that's why I have a bullet-proof vest.

READ ALSO France set for new 'national protest day' as pension strikes continue on Thursday

Several dozen protesters lay on the ground posing as blood-spattered corpses amid a field of fake severed arms and legs, a scene that a banner proclaimed as “Our daily reality”.

They complain of being denied benefits enjoyed by their armed police colleagues, who have an “active” employment status while they are categorised as “sedentary”. 

Active police members qualify for earlier retirement.

“We have an ambiguous status even though the majority of people here… have been confronted with criminals, and regularly see corpses,” said one protester who carried a sign around his neck stating: “Charlie Hebdo, I was there too” in reference to the deadly 2015 attack on the Paris-based satirical magazine.

The job is “extremely difficult” with “many strains”, said Soazig Henrio, of the Snipat union for forensic and scientific police.

“We want the danger and the difficulty of our work to be recognised,” she said, as other protesters held up posters declaring: “Have you ever slipped on the bodily fluids of a putrified corpse? I have.” 

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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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