At least a thousand police officers across the country have agreed not to write out new traffic tickets or collect existing fines owed in the period from now until 15 November, in protest over changes to their status regarding pensions and sick leave. The action, titled No Money, is the result of an agreement among members of a closed Facebook group Police Unifying Movement, which was originally set up last month after two officers were injured by a gunman in Dison in Liege province. Members of the group claim police unions are divided and inefficient, and occupy themselves with matters which are not of prime importance.
Now, around 1,000 members of the group have agreed to stop issuing traffic fines, and to stop collecting the money for existing fines, starting yesterday and continuing until 15 November. On that date, protesting police will come together for a demonstration on the Grand Place in Brussels.
In the meantime, the group has formulated a list of problem issues related to a planned change in the status of public employees, which would affect their entitlement to sick leave and make changes to the age at which officers become eligible for a pension.
“The idea behind this action is to hit the coffers of the state, because otherwise they refuse to listen to us,” said Pascal Rombaux, an inspector in Charleroi and member of the Facebook group. “We are asking for our status to return to how it was in 2001.”
A spokesperson for the federal police claimed to have no knowledge of the group or its No Money action, but pointed out that if members refuse to issue fines when necessary, they are in dereliction of duty, as officers are bound to act on knowledge of any illegal act.