In Grenoble, the employees of the municipality suffer the brutal exploitation that the green mayor is so fond of denouncing. This is particularly the case in extracurricular activities, a largely feminized sector where, despite the precariousness, the revolt is brewing. Aiming for the presidential election, the EELV mayor of Grenoble, Éric Piolle, likes to talk about social issues by showing off, for example, to bicycle delivery men to denounce “ uberization ”.
However, that does not prevent the workers of the municipality ruled by its majority, to live in working conditions to make the worst multinationals green with jealousy. Constant understaffing, derisory salaries, permanent turnover, impossible hours … if this reality affects all jobs in the city, the most obvious case is that of school workers.
And the key to this institutionalized precariousness is notably the “ hourly contract ”, which concerns more than 70 % of the facilitators. This public law status makes it possible to pay an agent for a variable number of hours according to needs. Impossible for this one to know in advance how many hours it will be able to work in the month, nor on which days. Salaries are therefore very unstable: the good months can bring in 800 euros, but often it will be necessary to be satisfied with 300 euros.
The greed of the town hall does not only impact wages, it also imposes deplorable working conditions. Because of the understaffing, the agents are regularly moved from one school to another to fill the gaps, sometimes notified less than an hour before taking up their post. As for the schedules, the time between midday and evening services (the most common) is done on a voluntary basis, to the detriment of the quality of work: almost all of them have to improvise and have the feeling of doing more babysitting than animation.
A strike BUILT BY THE precarious
Despite this brutal management, mobilizing is not easy for the agents, mostly women from immigrant backgrounds, already juggling their work, a family burden and an administrative battle for their residence permit. And for a long time, the shyness of the majority unions at the town hall did not help to make the link between the 77 schools in the city.
Things started to change in the spring of 2020, amid anger exacerbated by the health crisis. A few highly motivated agents, unionized SUD or CNT, went on visiting schools for weeks to meet hundreds of employees. This work made it possible to bring together several GAs, who voted for a day of strike on November 17th. To everyone’s surprise, this call, supported by a strike fund, was followed by more than 400 agents out of 1,000 ! A month later, most of the city’s canteens were blocked by a walkout every noon.
Following this, the town hall reacted with a ” deprecarization protocol “, a lure which fooled no one: only a few dozen tenure holders and a ridiculous increase in the working hours of animation. Despite everything, we have the feeling of having progressed by freeing the voice of a part of the salaried workforce that we rarely hear. A word that could prove embarrassing for the aspiring President of the Republic.
The school tour has resumed and we are already talking about the return of general assemblies, the revolt in the animation is far from having said its last word !
Thomas (UCL Grenoble)