Thu. Feb 22nd, 2024

French police officers, seeking additional compensation, staged protests on Thursday, heightening the risk of strikes and potential disruption during this year’s Paris Olympics, scheduled from July 26 to August 11. As the threat looms, French authorities are engaged in negotiations with various public sector trade unions, leveraging the upcoming Games to secure bonuses for their members and avoid tarnishing the country’s image.

Several police unions urged officers to demonstrate “minimum activity” on Thursday, with a midday protest near the main police station in Paris and additional demonstrations planned by night-shift workers. The Alliance union justified these actions, explaining that unions are demanding compensation of up to 2,000 euros ($2,200) for lost holidays and extra work related to the summer Games.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin met with police representatives on Monday, revealing a fund of approximately 500 million euros allocated for the security forces during the Games. The success of France’s first Olympics in a century is crucial for showcasing the country’s historic monuments, culinary and fashion excellence, and sporting prowess. Organizers are keen to prevent a repeat of past violent protests, such as the “Yellow Vest” movement in 2018 and massive strikes in 2019, which negatively impacted France’s global reputation.

Communication expert Philippe Moreau Chevrolet emphasized the delicate balance the Olympics present for a country’s image, stating that any major security problems or disruptions could overshadow the positive aspects of hosting the event. Pay negotiations with various sectors, including health workers, public transportation employees, and municipal staff, are ongoing, with the government aiming for resolution through dialogue to maintain a positive atmosphere leading up to the Games.

Michel Cadot, heading the government’s Games coordination committee, assured that negotiations were taking into account the unique status and requirements of each profession. However, the overall Games budget remains uncertain, partly due to the government’s inability to predict the extent of bonuses needed for public sector workers. With approximately 30,000 police officers expected to be on duty during the Games, the challenge is further compounded as it coincides with the peak of the summer holiday period in France.

Despite these challenges, the government faces pressure from various unions, including the hard-left CGT, which demonstrated against the suspension of weekend breaks for certain workers during the Games. The potential for high-impact operations and strikes looms unless the government addresses these concerns, further raising apprehensions about the smooth execution of the Paris Olympics, including the subsequent Paralympics scheduled from August 28 to September 8.

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