They were banned from wearing shorts while driving buses in spite of a searing heatwave affecting France now, so in response and protest, the bus drivers in the western French city of Nantes reported for work yesterday in skirts instead.
Temperatures have been hitting record levels through France, with authorities advising people to take urgent measures to avoid heatstroke. Yet the bus drivers could not understand while they are still being asked to wear unbearable pants while driving. Worse, some of the buses have no air conditioning, making the heat and wearing pants doubly uncomfortable for the drivers.
In an act of protest for what they believe are “unacceptable” working conditions in buses particularly those that have no air conditioning, half a dozen of the bus drivers made their stand known by wearing skirts for the day.
Didier Sauvetre a driver from the CFDT union told the local Presse Oceans news site that: “Our uniform is not appropriate for these high temperatures. We envy women at moments like this. Our managers say shorts are not suitable for our profession. We’ve opted for provocation by coming in skirts, which are allowed for female drivers.”
Temperatures are reaching close to 50C behind the buses’ windscreens. Drivers are saying wearing pants is simply unbearable under such conditions. The affected drivers are claiming that “a modern approach would allow them to wear long shorts from time to time.” They say the fact that women drivers can wear skirts, but not them, is a form of discrimination.
The bus company Semitan has not been agreeable with shorts, viewing the outfit as “inappropriate” for their drivers. Drivers argue that nobody can see what they are wearing in their cabins, anyway.
After a day of wearing skirt for work, driver Gabriel Magner said: “I can tell you that with today’s temperatures, it was rather agreeable.”
France’s labor code has no specific mention of shorts, but companies can make their own decisions on dress code. There is a clause on the labor code, however, that afford workers the right to draw tools if they believe their health is in danger due to working conditions.