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French police win pay rise after post-Yellow Vest go-slow

French police monitor Yellow Vest protests in Paris, 15 December 2018.
French police monitor Yellow Vest protests in Paris, 15 December 2018. Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP

French police have won a salary boost from the government after Wednesday's go-slow to denounce being overworked, under-appreciated and underpaid. Police unions say they were overstretched during weeks of containing Yellow Vest protests.

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After six hours of negotiations with unions, the French Interior Ministry announced late Wednesday that it had agreed to boost police pay.

“This agreement (…) paves the way for an improvement and a modernisation of work conditions and police officers’ incomes”, interior minister Christophe Castaner said in a statement.

From January, police officers will see their salaries go up by 40 euros, and then up to 120 euros per month, and even 150 euros for the most senior officers by the end of 2019, according to the Unité-SGP Police union.

"It is a big step forward," Yves Lefebvre, the union's secretary general said following meetings with the interior minister.

The concessions come after several police unions urged officers to walk out and handle only emergencies on Wednesday.

France's national police have long complained about being overworked, under-appreciated and underpaid.

Increasing demands

Demands on the police service have increased since the Yellow Vest protests began five weeks ago, and following a deadly attack last week near the Strasbourg Christmas market that killed five people.

The government will also begin negotiations on the huge backlog of overtime pay, with unions saying they are owed a collective 275 million euros, but details have yet to be worked out.

Despite the concessions, some police are still calling for a protest Thursday near the Champs-Elysees, a flashpoint of recent rioting.

Earlier in the week, authorities had proposed a 300-euro bonus for the 111,000 police and army officers deployed during the Yellow Vest protests, at an estimated cost of 33.3 million euros.

However, with the recent pay hikes, the government now says the bonus will be reserved only for administrative employees and technicians.

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