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  • French Police union threatened to join yellow-vest protesters.

    French Police union threatened to join yellow-vest protesters. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 December 2018

The decision was made after three police unions threatened to join protests for better wages and working conditions.

French President Emmanuel Macron successfully defuses a police-organized "Black Wednesday" protest, agreeing to gradually raise police officers' wages by an average of 120 euros (US$136) per month and up to 150 euros (US$170) for the most senior officers by the end of 2019.

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French officials met with police trade union leaders Wednesday to work out a deal that will soothe the anger and discontent among law enforcement. 

“This agreement … paves the way for improvement and modernization of work conditions and police officers’ incomes,” French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said in a statement.

The government also promised to address the issue of police 23 million unpaid hours of overtime, which according to France24 amounts to nearly 275 million euros.

On Tuesday, Police union leader Frederic Lagache warned the government: “Faced with this irresponsibility [of the government], we are forced to be irresponsible in our actions.”

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As negotiations between three unions (Alliance, UNSA-Police, and Unity-SGP-FO) and the interior minister failed to reach an agreement Tuesday, activists called on the police to “slow down” and only to respond to emergencies.

The Alliance and Unity-SGP-FO unions called for a “black day for the police” Wednesday, warning Act I would be followed Act II and Act III, in a reference to yellow-vest protesters.

Police unions had denounced the new proposed budget, to be adopted Thursday, which will cut around US$70.8 million from the national police budget. Denis Jacob, a spokesperson for the Alternative Police union, said the police are already “at breaking point.” On Wednesday there were no announcements on the budget.

The threat of law enforcement joining the protesting population, made the French government decide to increase the wages of police officers by an average of 120 euros (approximately US$136) per month. This was done in order to contain the police and obstruct an alliance of protesting people and law enforcement.

The French government has faced five consecutive and massive protests organized by the self-defined "yellow vests." Nationwide demonstrations began in November against an increase in fuel taxes President Macron eventually halted. Since then many social sectors have joined the protests, which now tackle what many are calling "fiscal injustice."

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