Bus drivers in the western French city of Nantes will now be able to wear shorts to work after company bosses relaxed strict rules.
The decision comes after bus and tram drivers sported skirts in protest at not being able to swap their trousers for shorts as temperatures soared into the mid 30s during the recent heatwave, as reported the local media Presse Ocean.
In the end bosses at bus company Semitan conceded and pledged to update its uniform policy.
A note, released by the company on Thursday, said that workers would be allowed to wear shorts while waiting for an updated uniform, as long as they correspond to the uniform's colour scheme of black and beige.
Photo: Screengrab Presse Ocean
The bosses will make a proposal on an “adapted uniform” during the next meeting addressing the company's dress code on June 30th.
The Local reported on the bus drivers' skirt protest as the workers complained that their uniform was inappropriate considering the sweltering temperatures that have been affecting most of France, including Nantes.
“We envy women at moments like this,” said Didier Sauvetre a driver from the CFDT union told the local Presse Ocean news site.
(Screengrab Presse Ocean)
“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 took its first step towards a compromise in summer last year when it rolled out a new line in “summer trousers” for drivers, that were lighter.
This is not the first time bus drivers in France have complained about their uniforms.
In April 2013 The Local reported on 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.