In a gradual lifting of the restrictions introduced to contain the Covid-19 epidemic in France, cafés and restaurants were allowed to re-open in June after a lengthy period of closure. But employers report increasing difficulties in finding staff, many of whom appear to have decided, after months laid off, to quit insecure and demanding jobs in which they complain of being exploited and undervalued. Cécile Hautefeuille reports from the Mediterranean resort of La Grande-Motte.
French finance minister Bruno Le Maire on Monday said emergency government aid for the country's carmakers, an industry severely hit by the effects of the Covid-19 epidemic, is conditional to them bringing certain manufacturing activity home to France from abroad.
French social sciences researcher Roland Marchal, 64, who was released by Iran in a prisoner exchange last month after spending nine months in jail on spying charges, has described the harsh conditions of isolation he was held in after his arrest and that of fellow researcher Fariba Adelkhah, who remains in a Tehran prison.
Firefighters held a march in Paris on Tuesday in protest over working conditions, including low staff numbers, poor pay and inadequate protection against violence increasingly directed against them, when unions claimed a turnout of between 7,000 and 10,000.
A study by London-based human rights charity Refugee Rights Europe questioned almost 300 migrants about their conditions living rough on the streets of the French capital, with many respondents complaining of a climate of fear amid physical attacks, racial abuse and sexual assault.
When the Paris Fashion Week opened this week to the usual glitzy catwalk shows of next year’s haute couture spring and summer designs for the happy few, just a mile away from the venue an unhappy group of sub-contracted workers serving the luxury Park Hyatt hotel held a counter ‘sidewalk show’ of their own, in a protest over pay and “deplorable” working conditions. On part-time contracts that they claim in reality bordered full-time working hours, they began an unlimited strike on September 20th to demand overtime payment, full-time working contracts and a yearly bonus payment. In this reportage of still photos, video and audio, photographer Patrick Artinian captured the anything-but-dull défilé outside the embarrassed hotel on the chic rue de la Paix.
In April this year, the supervisors of a strawberry farm in Greece opened fire on a group of immigrant workers who had demanded to be paid their salaries which had been withheld for six months. The shooting left 33 Bangladeshi workers wounded (picture), eight of them seriously hurt. It also revealed the dire conditions in which thousands of immigrant workers live in Greece, underpaid and often undeclared, with little or no possibility of escaping their exploitation in intensive farming businesses. Charalambos Kassimis is a professor and research director of rural sociology with the Athens University of Agriculture. In this interview with Amélie Poinssot, he explains the rural evolution which created the need for foreign labour, and details how many migrants became trapped in an organised "state of slavery" made possible by a “law of silence” enforced by politicians.
Amidst the heated debate over the French government’s plan to further reform the French pension system, a cross-party parliamentary committee will next month deliver its recommendations on remedying what one of its members describes as the “scandalous” plight of hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers who enter retirement with little rights and in conditions of dire poverty. Carine Fouteau reports on a shameful social issue that has hitherto been swept under the carpet by successive governments, and hears from the committee’s rapporteur, Alexis Bachelay, what reforms he and his colleagues are due to propose in June.
France’s prison inspection agency this week published a scathing report on conditions at Marseille’s notoriously dilapidated jailhouse, Les Baumettes, which it described as amounting to “a grave violation of fundamental rights”, and has called on the government to take urgent remedial measures at the almost 80-year old prison where overcrowding reaches 146%. The insalubrious and understaffed prison was officially declared a fire hazard in 2011 and is, the inspectors found, home to colonies of rats, cockroaches and louse where racketeering and violence are rife. Michel Deléan reports.
by Michel Deléan
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