22 Juin 2017
French bus drivers angry at a ban on wearing shorts in the ongoing heatwave have turned up to work in skirts.
The drivers in the western city of Nantes had asked to be allowed to dress more casually as temperatures reached 38C (100F) in Europecausing weather alerts across France. When the request was refused, six of the men decided to protest against what they claimed were unacceptable working conditions and donned skirts.
“We asked to be able to wear clothing suitable for the high temperatures, but were told we couldn’t wear shorts. Because skirts are authorised, we are wearing them,” Didier Sauvetre, a driver and union representative told the local paper Press Ocean.
Colleague Gabriel Magner, another union representative, claimed it was a form of discrimination. “Women can wear skirts but not men,” he said.
“Our bosses offices are air-conditioned, which isn’t the case with the majority of our vehicles. To spend more than seven hours in a vehicle in 50C temperatures is not easy. Above 30C the management could put a heatwave plan into action and allow drivers to wear shorts. We’ve been asking for this since 2013.”
He added: “Once the driver’s compartment is closed ... you can’t see anything anyway.”
Sauvetre, sporting a black knee-length skirt, white sports socks and sandals, said drivers were envious of women being able to wear skirts in the heatwave. “That’s why we have come to work in them,” he said.
However, Pascal Bolo, president of the bus company Semitan, insisted uniform rules were rules. Last year the company introduced lighter “summer trousers” for drivers. Shorts, however, remain banned as inappropriate.
“It’s hard but it’s only a few days of the year. We’re not in Monpellier [in the south] after all,” Bolo said. The new buses all have air conditioning even in the driver’s compartment ... and my office doesn’t.”