French workers furious at social distancing ‘personal alarms’ in workplace

A global maker of wipes and toilet paper has created a stink among its French employees after asking them to carry a device that goes off if they violate social distancing rules in the workplace.

French workers furious at social distancing 'personal alarms' in workplace
Illustration photo: AFP

The personal alarm system emits a warning sound of 85 decibels – about the same as a lawnmower – if the wearer gets too close to a colleague, according to outraged union representatives at the group.

It is set to be trialled at the French sites of personal hygiene specialist Essity, a Swedish company that makes hand soap, tissues, sanitary products and napkins.

The CFDT union denounced the alarms as “a system comparable to ones that try to dissuade dogs from barking,” adding that it would be stressful and “infantilising” for employees.

Reached for comment at the company's headquarters, spokesman Karl Stoltz told AFP that “it is just tested in France”.

Employees have been told that the alarms are for their own safety and that the devices will be deactivated in the company canteen, toilets and medical areas.

The sensors will not be personalised and do not have a system enabling the company to locate them, according to management.

The proposals are set to be discussed at a personnel meeting next week, but employees are already warning that the devices will end up like many of the company's single-use products. 

Christine Duguet, a union representative from the CFDT, predicted that “they'll finish in the rubbish bins or stay in a cupboard. This is complete nonsense.”

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French public urged to wear face masks again on public transport

With France in the middle of a new wave of Covid-19, the country's health minister has urged the public to once again wear face masks on public transport and in crowded spaces.

French public urged to wear face masks again on public transport

With cases on the rise again, French Health Minister Brigitte Bourguignon said she is “[asking] the French to put masks back on in transport” in an interview with RTL on Monday, 

For the time being, however, she stressed it was just advice, rather than an obligation, and masks have in fact been recommended on public transport since the legal requirement to wear them was lifted in May. 

However with France reporting over 50,000 daily cases of Covid-19 the government is clearly concerned by the current wave of the pandemic.

Bourguignon said that “we must protect ourselves and protect others,” adding that wearing a mask is “a civic gesture.”

She urged people to don their masks as soon as they see a crowded train or station.

READ MORE: Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

In addition to public transport, Bourguignon is also asking the French to once again mask-up in “all crowded, enclosed areas.”

Currently, masks are only required in hospitals, health centres and places that have vulnerable residents such as nursing homes. They are recommended in crowded spaces where it is impossible to practice social distancing.