Police protesters continue blue siege
13 June 2005AMSTERDAM — There was an unusual changing of the guard outside the Home Affairs Ministry in The Hague on Monday as a second squad of officers reported for "blue siege" duty.
13 June 2005
AMSTERDAM — There was an unusual changing of the guard outside the Home Affairs Ministry in The Hague on Monday as a second squad of officers reported for "blue siege" duty.
They replaced the first group of about 100 police officers that began a picket of the headquarters of their boss, Home Affairs Minister Johan Remkes, on Sunday evening in protest at the threatened worsening of their working conditions.
Over the next two weeks officers from all over the country will take turns in maintaining the "blue siege" during their spare time.
Remkes has indicated he will talk to the demonstrators on Monday. But he has already claimed he has already offered the police unions sufficient room to negotiate a new CAO, or pay and conditions agreement.
The protest is purely symbolic as the minister and his officials will not be hindered while entering or leaving the Ministry building. The idea is that the public will not be inconvenienced either.
It began on Sunday evening when officers from the Groningen, south Limburg and Haagland police departments stationed themselves outside the building. They were replaced with great fanfare by off-duty officers from Zaanstreek-Waterland and elsewhere.
The protesters have been making their grievances heard by banging occasionally on oil drums and blowing their whistles. The also plan to shoot video footage of Remkes and write an account of the impact the government's economising measures will have on the individual. The document and a petition will be presented to Remkes next week.
Several thousand police officers are expected to attend a rally at the front entrance of the Home Affairs Ministry on 16 June, and this will be followed by a even bigger demonstration, involving a maximum of 10,000 officers, on 23 June.
The police unions warn that if this does not persuade Remkes to change his stance, there could be mass work stoppages after the summer.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]
Subject: Dutch news