THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AFP) — Dutch police on Thursday called off their plans to disrupt the second stage of the Tour de France in the Netherlands on Sunday, but vowed to press ahead with a protest for better pay.
The announcement by the police unions came after the Dutch government dropped a request for an urgent interdict to bar disgruntled officers from demonstrating on Rotterdam’s iconic Erasmus bridge, which the riders will cross.
“Rotterdam has given us all the space to be present, visible and recognizable in the city to strengthen our legitimate demands,” union negotiators Albert Springer and Gerrit van de Kamp said in a statement.
“The discussion between police unions and the Rotterdam city council has led to the urgent interdict being dropped and the Tour de France will pass through undisturbed,” they added.
The police, who are demanding better pay, had announced plans on Monday to carry out traffic checks on the advertising caravan that precedes the Tour’s competitors — a move that would hold up the riders.
The unions on Thursday said they had abandoned the plan.
“There’s no question of carrying out a traffic check on the advertising caravan. Even better, we’ll escort it” through Rotterdam, they said.
Instead, they said, a union member will cycle ahead of the publicity caravan and “many” police vehicles will be parked on Erasmus bridge, but in a way that will not obstruct the race.
The police also plan a protest bike ride in the city of Utrecht shortly before the start of the tour in that city on July 4.
The officers want a pay raise of 3.3 percent, higher overtime pay, and a cash bonus for undergoing a reorganization of the police force.