French Prison Guards Set Fire as Union Calls for 'Total Blockage'

They're striking for improved security
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 22, 2018 12:21 AM CST
Smoke rises from a fire set up by penitentiary staff outside the prison in Vendin le Vieil, northern France.   (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
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(Newser) – Protesting guards are blocking some of France's 188 prisons as a conflict triggered by attacks on guards enters its second week. About 100 guards protested in front of the Marseille prison on Monday, setting a small fire and blocking entrances. It wasn't immediately clear how many prisons were affected by the protests—or how many people had responded to a call by the Workers' Force union for guards to walk off the job entirely. Unions representing protesting prison guards called for a "total blockage" as the Justice Ministry said a new round of talks was expected. Guards rejected ministry proposals last week, the AP reports.

Attacks in about a half-dozen prisons have fueled guards' demands for more staff and better security. In one of the latest incidents, two guards were hospitalized after being attacked in a prison near Calais on Sunday. France's Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet says she will meet with union officials in an effort to end the crisis and ensure prisons function normally, the BBC reports. France 24 reports a proposal the unions rejected over the weekend as "window dressing" promised tougher measures to deal with "terrorist and radicalized detainees," including a "total lockdown on the management of most dangerous detainees."

(Read more France stories.)

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