On Thursday, January 18th, French police officers staged a “Black Thursday” protest, demanding better pay and improved working conditions during the upcoming Paris Olympics. This demonstration, led by major police unions Alliance and Unsa Police, highlights the growing discontent among law enforcement personnel in France.
The unions are calling for bonuses of up to €2,000, along with guarantees of holiday leave and childcare support for police officers during the summer Olympics. The protest was sparked by information from the interior ministry suggesting that all police officers in France would be mobilized during the two-week Olympic period, from July 24th to August 11th, and would not be allowed to take holidays.
French police officers are expected to be allowed only 10 days of holiday leave between June 15 and September 15, with the rest of the time dedicated to duty. Many regional police officers anticipate being relocated to Paris for the Games and are seeking assurances on housing and working hours.
The unions called for “minimum activity” on Thursday, responding to calls, including emergencies, but not conducting standard patrols. Sylvain André, from the Alliance police union in Strasbourg, emphasized the need for measures on childcare and housing logistics, as well as clarity on holiday allowances.
Unions have met with French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, with a source in Darmanin’s entourage indicating that support measures for police would be finalized by the end of the month. The talks on remuneration and childcare support have been described as “constructive.”
The police protest underscores the potential threat of strike action during the Paris Olympics, a major international event that will draw global attention. The demands of the police unions reflect broader concerns about working conditions and compensation in a high-pressure environment.
The French government’s response to these demands will be closely watched, as it could set a precedent for future negotiations with public service workers. The situation also highlights the challenges of balancing the needs of law enforcement personnel with the demands of hosting a large-scale international event like the Olympics.
As France prepares to host the Olympics, the resolution of the police protest and their demands will be crucial in ensuring the event’s success and the safety of all participants and visitors.