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Elysée guards 'sick of heavy and sweaty gear'

Oliver Gee · 6 May 2015, 11:22

Published: 06 May 2015 11:22 GMT+02:00

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Guards from the 180-strong team of police who guard the Elysée Palace in Paris - the official residence of France's president - have had enough it seems.
According to reports in France on Wednesday the officers have logged complaints about their working conditions and are reportedly mulling possible strike action.
They say that their gear is too heavy, their shifts are too long... and the fact they have to wear sweaty flak jackets is having an adverse affect on their skin.
This is all according to the guards' health and safety logs, which were reviewed by satirical French newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné.
Ever since security was ramped up in the wake of the Paris terror attacks in January, as part of the operation known as Vigipirate, there has been an increased workload for soldiers and police across the country but especially in the capital.
Many of them stand guard for hours on end guarding "sensitive" sites like Jewish schools, media outlets, as well as famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower.

(Guards patrolling the Eiffel Tower. Photo: AFP)
For the Elysée guards, the new workload meant they have to now carry 15 kilogrammes of extra weight - including a sub machine gun and extra magazine, together with a heavier bullet proof vest, leaving some of them in "intolerable pain".
Others said that the heavier vests meant that their skin couldn't breathe, and claimed that sharing the vests among the team resulting in some guards' faces erupting in pimples and sores.
Another complained of working an eight hour and forty five minute shift without a break. 
The presidential guards aren't the first to say the post-terror workload is too much. 
France's riot police decided late last month that they were fed up of standing guard all day and started calling in sick in protest.

They're "fed up" with a "very tense working environment", Nicolas Comte, head of one of the police units, told France Info

One police spokesman has already spoken out about the risks of the long shifts, saying in March that overworking could lead to complacency. 
Story continues below…
France's fatigued 'anti-terror' police call in sick
(Guards are at Paris airports too. Photo: AFP)
"The risk is that this will lead to a lack of vigilance, which means that when a real attack comes we are not reactive and therefore unable to stop it," he told Europe 1. 
There are around 11,500 soldiers and guards on hand across the country, guarding over 800 sensitive sites. 
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