Dutch police threaten to disrupt Tour de France

Police union says it will set up traffic checkpoint for support vehicles on Rotterdam bridge in row over pay

Police officers ride through the centre of Utrecht on Thursday. The police workers’ union has announced it  will stage actions during the grand départ of the Tour de France in Utrecht on July 4th. Photograph: Jeroen Jumelet/EPA

Police officers ride through the centre of Utrecht on Thursday. The police workers’ union has announced it will stage actions during the grand départ of the Tour de France in Utrecht on July 4th. Photograph: Jeroen Jumelet/EPA

 

Dutch police have threatened to bring the second day of the Tour de France grinding to a halt on the iconic Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam next Sunday week – in front of a global television audience of 3.5 billion.

In the escalation of a long- running pay row with the government, the country’s largest police union, the ACP, says it will set up a traffic checkpoint on the bridge and examine all the support vehicles in the convoy that precedes the riders.

“The checks will stop when it’s clear from live broadcasts in several European countries that the Tour de France cyclists have stopped because police are taking action for better working conditions,” said an ACP statement.

The union’s chairman, Gerrit van de Kamp, said it had chosen the bridge because it wasn’t open to the public and would be the safest location for their protest.

“Police vehicles will be placed on the bridge and there will be police boats in the water,” he said. “A large number of officers will be on hand to carry out checks.”

Le grand départ

grand départUtrechtNetherlands

The police are demanding a 3.3 per cent pay rise to end a four-year-long pay freeze, as well as an exemption to allow older officers to retire before 67, and compensation for the effects of a recent reorganisation.

This is the latest stage of their campaign. Last month, police held a day of protest outside parliament, sounding their sirens for 10 minutes every hour. More recently, a first division football game had to be abandoned when police said they couldn’t guarantee security.

The mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, said he found the planned action “incomprehensible”.

“Like many people, I have sympathy for the police officers who are fighting for a better deal. But this is not the way to achieve their aim, by disrupting a huge event that so many Dutch cycling fans have been looking forward to. I hope the unions will still change their minds.”