A sweaty bus in any big city in France is not the place to be right now, given the heatwave that is currently baking much of the country.
So spare a though for drivers, particularly those in the western city of Nantes, which have had their request to wear shorts to work turned down.
The bus drivers denounced unacceptable conditions of work and made their point by wearing skirts for the day on Tuesday.
“Our uniform is not appropriate for these high temperatures. We envy women at moments like this,” said Didier Sauvetre a driver from the CFDT union told the local Presse Ocean news site.
“Given that skirts are an authorized outfit in the company, we are wearing skirts,” he said.
“A modern outlook would allow us to wear long shorts from time to time. This is a form of discrimination. Women drivers can wear skirts, but not the men,” said Gabriel Magner, another union rep.
“In this heatwave, the temperatures are reaching close to 50C behind our windscreens. And given we have no air conditioning on our buses, it’s unbearable,” he added.
Although there is nothing in France’s labour code that bars workers from wearing shorts, the decision often comes down to the company and depends on the type of job. The labour code does say workers can down tools if they believe their health is in danger due to working conditions.
The bus company Semitan however believes shorts are not appropriate for the work of a bus driver.
However drivers say once they are locked inside the driver’s cabins no one can see them anyway.
Semitan did take a step towards a compromise in summer last year when it rolled out a new line in “summer trousers” for drivers, that were lighter. But there’s still no sign of them agreeing to shorts.
This is not the first time bus drivers in France have complained about their uniforms.
In April 2013 The Local reported how bus drivers in Marseille were set to strike because of restrictive working conditions – in other words their trousers were too tight.
“I won’t be wearing them,” one Marseille bus-driver said at the time. “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,” added a union chief.