PARIS (AP) — The French government bowed to police demands for a salary boost and decades of unpaid overtime after police officers — stretched by containing violent yellow vest demonstrators and guarding against extremist attacks — staged their own protests, including at the main Paris airport.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement early Thursday that two days of meetings with three leading police unions produced an agreement to boost pay. A statement by the unions said the government also agreed to pay years of overtime pay but details will only be worked out next year. The government said the bill amounts to nearly 275 million euros ($313 million).
The unions welcomed the deal, calling it “real progress” after years of complaints about conditions and increasing demands. Police are overstretched after weeks of sometimes violent clashes with protesters from the grassroots yellow vest movement. A deadly attack last week near the Strasbourg Christmas market has led to increased holiday surveillance around France, adding to demands on police.
An anonymous online group had called for a protest by police Thursday evening near the Champs-Elysees, the flashpoint of recent rioting. It’s unclear whether the protest will go ahead now that an agreement has been reached.
The Interior Ministry also promised a “plan for deep transformation of the national police” to address the long-simmering malaise.
The agreement came after scattered protests nationwide Wednesday. French police dragged their feet at passport check-in lines in at least one terminal at Charles de Gaulle airport, creating long lines of waiting passengers, while elsewhere in the Paris region some police stations responded only to emergencies.
The police deal comes after President Emmanuel Macron ceded to several demands by the yellow vest protesters. Their movement, named after the fluorescent vests that French motorists must wear in case of emergency, began with a protest last month over fuel tax hikes but quickly expanded to other concerns.