Local police Yellow vest
© Agence France-Presse
Police face Yellow Vest protests
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.

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).

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.

"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.
Yellow vest protest france
© Agence France-Presse
"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.

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.

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.

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 on 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.

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.

"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.