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French bus drivers to strike over tight trousers
File photo: Novita Estiti

French bus drivers to strike over tight trousers

Published: 19 Apr 2013 13:19 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Apr 2013 13:19 GMT+02:00

Bus drivers in the crime-stricken city of Marseille have announced on Friday they are to take strike action over restricted working conditions. Their grievance? They don’t like “the quality, the colour or the fit” of their new pants.

It’s no secret that French workers are not shy about going on strike. And if anyone has good cause for protesting against their working conditions, it’s bus-drivers in the southern city of Marseille.

The employees of RTM, “Régie des transports de Marseille” (the city’s public transport authority), have been the subject of violent attacks in the past, especially in the city’s notoriously crime-ridden northern districts.

However, this is not the reason the southern city’s 1,600 RTM employees are set to go on a 24-hour strike on June 3rd. Instead they will walk out  because they refuse to wear the trousers from their new uniforms.

“I won’t be wearing them,” one Marseille bus-driver told regional daily La Provence on Friday. “You’d think we work for [car repair company] Speedy! The shirts are alright, but these pants are far too tight,” he added.

“We reject the bottom half of this uniform, which has the same colour as the Gendarmerie National,” CGT union leader Bernard Gargiolo told La Provence on Friday.

The new lavender-coloured shirts replace RTM’s old yellow number, and appear to have provoked few complaints.

However, the manner of choosing the uniforms has also angered union officials. “The employees don’t want to wear a uniform that was chosen unilaterally by [RTM’s] management, without taking into account the reflections of our clothing committee,” said Gargiolo.

For his part, the new uniform’s designer, Jonathan Charles, defended his creation.  “People are saying they’ll look like clowns. Well, that was already the case with the old outfits,” he told La Provence.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

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