France: Unions urge work slowdowns by protest-weary police

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PARIS (AP) — After five straight weekends of disruptive and sometimes violent protests across France, police are taking a turn expressing anger at the French government.

Two police unions complained Monday about working conditions and what they said were strained resources as officers have been sent in to clear road blockades and to control trouble-makers at street demonstrations bent on provoking them.

The Alliance union urged the government to invest in rebuilding the country’s police forces while calling for a work slowdown Wednesday to protest planned cuts in the national police budget.

Another union, UNSA police, said its members only would provide minimum services Tuesday and asked for a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron. The union asked the government earlier this month for payment of overtime hours officers put in work quelling the protests.

“Police are not doing well and nobody is listening,” Frederic Lagache, of the Alliance union, said.

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Lagache’s union said that French lawmakers are set to vote on 62 million euros ($70 million) in budget cuts this week that “will once again result in downgraded work conditions,” if approved.

Alliance is encouraging police forces to stay inside their stations on Wednesday and only to respond to emergency calls.

Alliance said French lawmakers should vote against the government’s 2019 budget and warns “that other actions will be implemented” if President Emmanuel Macron “does not quickly announce a Marshall Plan for the national police.”

The “yellow vest” protests, named after the fluorescent safety vests French motorists must carry, started last month over rising fuel prices. They since have morphed into a mass show of dissatisfaction involving pensioners, people without jobs and small business owners.

The UNSA union threatened Monday to mimic yellow vests protests and to occupy roundabouts if its demands were not met.

“The roundabouts are not reserved for yellow vests only,” the union said in a statement. UNSA said.

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