A march by French firefighters in Paris on Tuesday, October 15, was met with severe police repression. The firefighters’ unions were unhappy with the government over the lack of response to the concerns they had been raising for some time. These include the lack of resources for their sector, funding problems, and difficult working conditions.
The protesters demanded the withdrawal of the pension reforms and the upgrading of firefighters to the same level as police who receive a risk bonus. They also sought a massive recruitment drive to fill vacancies. Only 40,000 of the 250,000 firefighters in the country are permanent employees.
However, the government’s response was harsh. According to reports, police used tear gas, batons and water canons on the demonstrators. FireFighterNation reported that the protesters wore reflective helmets, carried smoky flares and some of them even donned gas masks when tear gas was fired.
Andre Goretti, president of the Union of Professional Firefighters, noted that the firefighters had been on strike since June, but had been met with only “total disdain” from the authorities. French trade unions, including the General Confederation of Labour (CGT), denounced the police repression.