Paris's overworked rat-catchers on strike

Paris rat-catchers display one of their prey at a protest outside city hall to demand more staff and payment of bonuses

Paris's overworked rat-catchers staged a one-day strike Tuesday, protesting outside city hall to demand reinforcements and bonuses two months after carrying out a massive cull in the French capital.

Laying a dead rat under a giant banner reading "The staff are angry", some 50 workers -- nearly the entire staff of the city's pest control unit -- turned out for the protest.

The staff has shrunk by 14 in the past year and a half and only three dozen workers are deployed for rat-catching, according to the CGT union.

Their contribution is "central to the city and they only want to be recognised," the workers' union representative Olivier Garret told AFP.

"They are the ones exposed to the most difficult tasks... They have always been forgotten, and they have always been the ones to do the dirty work."

In addition to more staff, the workers are demanding payment of a 2,000 euro ($2,125) bonus that they say was lost in the shuffle during an administrative reorganisation.

During the December "war on rats", several of the French capital's parks and green spaces were sealed off from the public for the rat-catchers to bait traps with powerful poison.

The Champ de Mars park around the Eiffel Tower became one of many battlegrounds in the fight against the furry invaders. Most tourists remained blissfully unaware of the battle unfolding at their feet.

Paris's rat population is unknown but biologists calculate that a single pair of rats could have some 15,000 descendants by the end of a year.

The distressed pest control workers have an additional grievance dating to the terror attacks that hit Paris on November 13, 2015.

They say they were never properly thanked for their help cleaning up the Bataclan concert hall where 90 people lost their lives in a jihadist bloodbath.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo will address personal thank you letters to each staff member, her office said.

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