French police have threatened their own ‘blue vest’ protests against President Emmanuel Macron after five weeks on the front-line of the Yellow Vest protests against his government.
Two police unions complained on Monday about working conditions which were leaving them strained across the country.
The Alliance union said the government needed to invest in the country’s police while urging a work slowdown on Wednesday to protest Mr Macron’s planned cuts.
They promised a ‘black day for the police’ and their own version of the ‘gilets jaunes’, the ‘gilets bleus’ or Blue Vests, according to the Local.
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Riot police were deployed on the streets of Biarritz on Tuesday to combat Yellow Vest protesters during a visit by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to southwestern France
French police union bosses have threatened their own ‘Blue Vests’ if President Emmanuel Macron fails to listen to their calls for a halt to planned cuts to the police force
The beleaguered French police (pictured spattered with paint on the Champs-Elysees on December 8) have faced five straight weeks of protest by the Yellow Vests
Another union, UNSA police, said its members would provide minimum services on Tuesday and invited Mr Macron to a meeting.
The union demanded payment of overtime hours put in throughout the protests from the government earlier this month.
‘Police are not doing well and nobody is listening,’ Frederic Lagache, of the Alliance union said.
Alliance say that French lawmakers are set to vote on £56 million (62 million euros) 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.
Yellow Vest demonstrators gather during a visit by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Biarritz, southwestern France on Tuesday
Demonstrations continued across the country on Tuesday (including in Biarritz pictured) and last night protesters burned toll booths on the French Riviera
The UNSA union threatened on Monday to mimic yellow vests protests and occupy roundabouts if its demands were not met.
‘The roundabouts are not reserved for yellow vests only,’ the union said in a statement.
French interior minister Christophe Castaner said on his Twitter that he would meet with union chiefs on Tuesday evening.
The news comes as fires engulfed motorway toll booths on the French Riviera on Monday night and further Yellow Vest protests took place across France.
Video shows how Yellow Vest demonstrators set fire to the installations at Bandol, on the Mediterranean close to Toulon, in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Videos posted on social media showed the booths burning fiercely, causing hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage.
‘Sixteen arrests for suspected arson offences were made soon afterwards,’ said a local police source. ‘All are now in custody.’
The Yellow Vests – who are named after the high visibility jackets that all motorists have to carry in their cars in France – have been blockading the booths for the past month.
They are on the A50 motorway, which runs along the Mediterranean between Marseille and Toulon.
Two Yellow Vest protesters can be seen beneath a makeshift shelter as they continue their blockades close to the Feyzin oil refinery, near Lyon on Tuesday night
It was the first road in France to trial the so-called Telepeage system – one that allows tolls to be paid automatically using a windscreen mounted sensor.
British visitors to the country are far more likely to pay by hand, using cash or credit cards, but that is today impossible on the A50.
‘The road is now shut in both directions, as the fire is investigated and the damage dealt with,’ said the police source.
The Yellow Vests campaign started as a protest against green taxes on petrol and diesel on November 17, leading Mr Macron to scrap them.
Despite the U-turn, violence including widespread rioting in cities such as Paris has continued, costing the French economy millions.
Toll booths in France are run by private companies such as Vinci, which manages the Bandol station.
It says it has lost millions because of vandalism during the Yellow Vests crisis, and has called on Mr Macron’s government to pay for all the damage.