France: Guards' union OKs plan to address prison protests

France: Guards' union OKs plan to address prison protests
Prison guards, left, face riot police officers outside the Fresnes prison, where Jawad Bendaoud is expected to be, 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) — The largest labor union representing France’s prison guards said Friday that it has accepted the justice minister’s plan for improving working conditions, a move that could end nationwide prison protests sparked by alleged assaults.

Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet proposed better pay and improved security measures to protect guards from the most dangerous inmates, as part of the plan presented to the union Thursday.

The UFAP-UNSA said in a statement Friday that it would sign the proposal, which also would allow for housing 1,500 convicts suspected of Islamic radicalization in special units.

Belloubet welcomed the union’s announcement, saying in a written statement she “now hopes all guards will get back to work to ensure the security of prisons.”

The protests by prison guards, which included blocking prison entrances and work stoppages, entered their 12th day Friday. The blockades started after a radicalized inmate allegedly attacked three guards with a knife at a high-security prison in northern France on Jan. 11. More attacks by inmates have since been reported in about a half-dozen prisons.

The justice minister’s proposal would improve safety conditions with more thorough searches in prisons. Guards also would be equipped with new gear, including concealed bullet-proof jackets and hand-held personal security alarms.

The plan also calls for adding 1,100 new jobs over four years and increasing the annual bonus for guards to 1,400 euros (,750) per year.