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Thousands of firefighters "angry" manifest in Paris, tensions at the end of the procession

By AFP | October 15th 2019 at 21:06:00 GMT +0300

Thousands of professional firefighters parade in Paris to denounce the lack of staff and recognition of their profession, October 15, 2019.

Thousands of professional firefighters "angry" marched Tuesday afternoon in Paris to denounce the lack of staff and recognition of their profession, during a national event that ended in clashes with the forces of the 'order.

The march brought together between 7,000 to 10,000 people, according to the nine unions in the profession who had all called for mobilization.

Some tensions enamelled the demonstration, especially after the arrival of the procession Place de la Nation, where the police used tear gas and water launchers to disperse the demonstrators, according to an AFP journalist. Some descended on the Paris ring road at the Porte de Vincennes, where they briefly disrupted traffic.

Dozens of other firefighters also gathered in front of the National Assembly, where they were dispersed at the end of the day after several hours of face-to-face meetings with the police, AFP reported.

The police prefecture denounced "the irresponsibility of some demonstrators" who maintained actions "despite the orders of dispersion". Three members of the security forces were injured and six protesters arrested for violence or throwing projectiles, according to the PP.

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To the sound of whistles and sirens, dressed in their navy blue with fluorescent yellow stripes, professional firefighters - who represent 16% of the 247,000 firefighters in France (the others are volunteers) - marched by brandishing including placards proclaiming " Do more with less, welcome to the fire department "or" Stop the contempt of politics "

Thousands of professional firefighters parade in Paris to denounce the lack of staff and recognition of their profession, October 15, 2019.

They received the support of nurses, hospital doctors and Samu employees, who also denounced the shortages in their "overworked" services. "Yellow vests" also fraternized with firefighters, including singing their usual chorus "We're here" before leaving the Republic Square.

This demonstration is part of a strike movement started in June, very followed by the unions even if it did not cause major disruption, firefighters being required to a minimum service.

We will not get there anymore

The organizations denounce in particular the constant increase in the number of interventions, in particular for medical-social assistance missions (ambulance deficiencies, assistance of the elderly ...) which exploded in recent years whereas they do not initially part of their core business, urgency.

"There is a drop in the numbers of concern when we are overwhelmed by the number of interventions.We are asked all, including to replace ambulances.At one point, we will not get there," explained to AFP Mathias Gosse, 53, firefighter in Grasse (Alpes-Maritimes) "mounted" Tuesday in Paris.

"And in addition, we are threatening our pension plan that allows us to leave at age 57 (with 42 years, ed)," he adds.

The unions also demand a revaluation of the fire premium (28% of base salary, against 19% currently) to the risk premiums granted to police and gendarmes, as well as better protection against assaults whose number increases each year.

"The population is not always aware of our difficulties, the decline in the number of people means that there is less training, more skills, but we have no response, the Ministry of the Interior and the local authorities (which finance the SDIS and pay the firefighters, do) send the ball, "said Nathalie Kaszubiak, general secretary of the FO union administrative staff of SDIS (Fire and Rescue Services).

Questioned during the questioning session in the government, the Secretary of State for the Interior, Laurent Nuñez, assured that the problems of the firefighters were taken "arms-in-the-body" by the government, and announced the experimenting with a "single number" emergency -the 112- that would better guide calls.

A union delegation was also received this afternoon at the Ministry of the Interior.

Several elected officials also went out to support the protesters present in the Assembly, including the president of the RN and MP Pas de Calais Marine Le Pen and LFI MP Eric Coquerel.


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