Canada Coronavirus: janitors are also on the front line

09:40  07 april  2020
09:40  07 april  2020 Source:   lejdd.fr

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Le confinement expose les gardiens d'immeuble à la menace du virus et parfois à l'intransigeance des employeurs. © Éric Dessons / JDD

Confinement exposes building guards to the threat of the virus and sometimes to the intransigence of employers.

A note slipped under the door: "We left to confine ourselves to the countryside, thank you for taking care of our plants." An SMS: "I put my trash cans on the landing, could you take them down?" A phone call: "Please keep my package confined for a few hours while the virus leaves, and then mount it for me." Since the "everyone at home" was decreed, this is the kind of slices of life that absorb Angélique and Ludovic, couple of guards officiating in a condominium of four buildings, in the Montparnasse district, in Paris.

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On the urban territory, a network of 60,000 janitors, these little stories are available at will. Giving these employees the feeling of being seen as a bulwark against the danger that lurks even in the common areas. But without recognition, even less applause.

"Wearing a mask is not necessary" informed the employers 'and trustees' organizations

And with what precautions? Since close contact with the occupiers is expected to become scarce, "the wearing of a mask is not necessary" said employers 'and workers' organizations, in a progress report on 23 March. It is also specified that "the usual protective equipment is to be used, in particular household gloves" and that "special care should be taken to frequently disinfect sensitive elements such as handles, bars, ramps, bells, Digicode and mail boxes". It is the employer's responsibility to ensure that the equipment is compliant, sufficient, and to renew it if necessary. So much for the theoretical framework.

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Realities are more disparate. Already because communication is sometimes lacking with slow motion trustees. And that not everyone adopts the same position. "There is the employer who understands the situation, asks Patrick Barbero, director of the National Union for the Defense of Guardians of Buildings and House Employees (UDGE). And there is the asshole with a capital A , who doesn't want to know anything: "The guard is exposed? I don't care, he continues his job because we need the trash cans to be taken out, cleaning done and mail delivered." "


We are also at the front, maybe not on the front line but just behind


And report the call of a guard summoned to do the shopping for all the residents. With the fear of losing his job in case of refusal. "We are talking about people who work the ball in the stomach, with the means at hand. We too are at the front, perhaps not on the front line but just behind," said Sandrine Pavy, of the National Independent Union of Guardians of Buildings and concierges (Snigic), herself stationed in Levallois-Perret (Hauts-de-Seine).

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Systematic bleaching of packages

In the 11th arrondissement of Paris, Sandra shares her lodge of 18 square meters with her teenage son, surrounded by around fifty apartments. Last week, she received from the building trustee a lot of FFP2 masks and a box of 100 gloves. But no specific instructions, except those contained in Anne Hidalgo's letter encouraging the Parisian guards to help elderly residents in need. What she does. On her own, she also took additional hygiene measures, such as the systematic bleaching of packages. Still, she is "still a little scared".

Gilles, who officiates in the 18th arrondissement, found it extremely difficult to assert his right of withdrawal. Not so much because he was taking risks at his workplace, where no equipment was provided to him. It is especially that, not living on the spot, he was reduced to using three public transport, twice a day, for a simple act of presence. Household and trash being subcontracted, repair companies no longer coming, he had only a few parcels to receive. But it took a lawyer to get the trustee bent.

Angélique and Ludovic, they remained without news of theirs for two weeks, after they were asked, on the first day of confinement, to stop cleaning the common areas. Their professional conscience was stronger. They now spend more than two hours on a stairwell against 40 minutes usually. "We insist on new or more exposed areas, such as the doors of the occupants or the switches."

Luckily, the couple had a stock of surgical gloves and masks inherited from a dentist who had moved there four years ago. In the story, the local pharmacist was happy to recover two boxes of gloves for his employees, bartering them friendly "against some FFP2 masks". This is the postman knocking on the door of the lodge. His protections, this is where he found them.

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