"It doesn't correspond to what the syndicates asked for, we need much more means, especially at the level of personnel; they created places in prisons which we didn't really ask for. After a prison is built, it has to be filled with personnel. It's not about opening a prison, it's about hiring more personnel," Decary said.
The strikes in January were called by three unions, Ufap Unsa, Force Ouvriere and CGT Penitentiaire, but only the first one accepted the Justice Ministry's plan for the improvement of working conditions in late January. The CGT Penitentiaire representative said that the other unions did not see government's proposals as a move forward, but the syndicates could not continue protesting over a threat of suspension or salary cuts.
"No, we don't call for manifestations because we faced sanctions. We have a special status, and it's complicated to be on a strike. We were suspended, were fined. We can't afford protesting for now, we'll have our salaries slashed this month, but we can't always have that," Decary explained.
Decary added that the French government fails to see the roots of the problem and suggested that the whole prison system has to be redesigned,
"It seems that the government goes on without taking our core demands into account. In prisons there are people who want to get out, and those who don't. And I think that we need to deal with those who do want to get out, and care a little bit less about those who don't," the union representative said.
The detention conditions at the moment make it harder for inmates to integrate into society after their release, Decary said.
"If we create three-star prisons for everybody, it won't solve the problem. I've known prisons for 30 years, before every inmate used to work,… was obliged to study a little, we forced them, otherwise they were not getting anywhere. Now they can spend all their life in front of the TV or PlayStation, and do sports, so obviously these people, after they are out, they will start doing it all again," the CGT Penitentiaire representative said.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe presented a plan to tackle radicalization on Friday during a visit to Lille, including such measures as an addition of 1,500 new places for radicalized inmates in isolated prison wings. The announcement came about a month after a series of protests by French prison guards, rallying against unsafe working conditions and the threat from radicalized detainees, in particular.
The key demands of prison guards during January protests included salary raise, hiring more staff and improving security at work. The protests began shortly after a radicalized inmate injured several prison employees in the north of France.