French justice minister meets unions over prison blockades

French justice minister meets unions over prison blockades
Prison guards protest by burning pallets outside the Fresnes prison, where Jawad Bendaoud is expected to be jailed, outside Paris, Wednesday Jan.24, 2018. The trial of Bendaoud accused of providing assistance to the suspected ringleader of the Paris attacks could be disrupted by prison guards protesting their working conditions. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

PARIS (AP) — France’s justice minister is meeting with union leaders in an effort to end a nationwide prison blockade launched by guards seeking improved working conditions.

After two failed rounds of negotiations, Nicole Belloubet was meeting union representatives at the Justice Ministry’s headquarters Thursday with new proposals on the table.

As the movement entered its 11th day, Jean-Francois Forget, the head of the UFAP-UNSA union, said before speaking with Belloubet that he was optimistic progress had been made overnight, notably on the issue of radicalized inmates.

The current movement, growing increasingly tough, is the largest in years, with the majority of France’s 188 prisons affected to various degrees. A spokesman for the penitentiary administration told The Associated Press that guards were protesting at 116 prisons Thursday.