Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why France is not a workers' paradise, no matter what you may have heard

Today we all had to go to a 'laboratory council' to vote whether a technician working in our team should get 'titularisé' - that is, get a permanent (and in France, they really mean permanent) job or not. I found it really bizarre that one's colleagues have the right to vote on this. Basically, the procedure was that our team leader said a few words about his performance (he had left by this stage), then the head of department said a few words, and then we all cast a vote by secret ballot, which consisted of choosing amongst slips of paper reading 'Oui' 'Non' or blank and putting them in a box.

I was mortified when the results were read, because there were like 15 Ouis and one abstention, which was me, and now I feel guilty for abstaining and fearful that he'll somehow find out by a process of elimination that I was the abstainer. (So totally, writing about it on the internet is a great idea.)

Although I work in the same team with this guy, and I can say he's a really nice person, our paths don't really cross in a professional sense, so I didn't feel in a position to pass judgement on whether or not he was worthy of getting a 'post'. In fact, since I handle the English stuff, I'm quite often just working away in my little corner with not very much in common with everyone else, but that's even more true where this guy's concerned.

And if I'm brutally honest? The second reason I abstained is because I think it's unfair that he should get titularisation when no-one else in our team has it - we don't even have permanent contracts (I won't go bore you going into the differences between the two or why it is that he's able to get titularised while we can't). Not even our direct manager has a permanent contract. This guy is a grade or two below all of us, and the last person to join the team. And getting titularisation means all kinds of benefits, most of which I don't even know about - I assume there are health care and retirement benefits. What I do know is he gets 2 months' bonus salary every year. He's officially below us on the pay scale, and while I don't know by how much, I'm betting 2 months' extra salary means he'll now earn the same or more than I do. I have 2 Masters' degrees, he only has the Bac, and I'm doing a supposedly higher-level job.

I know I sound bitter and it's not this guy's fault how the system, or our particular workplace, operates, but it is like a kick in the pants. It honestly does make me wonder what the point is in staying in France where it seems not only are there zero chances for advancement or pay increases for me, but I don't even feel like I'm getting appropriately compensated if the only thing that matters is whether or not your employer decides to create a permanent job for you, not the work you do or the qualifications you have. After all, unlike most people I know, online and off, it's not like I have a boyfriend or any other significant tie keeping me here. Just an apartment full of expensive stuff I had to buy after getting screwed over by one of my only "friends". #Depressed.


  1. Gwan

    Don't be depressed - it's just the way things work here - he's probably related to someone who matters.

    Did you wonder if everyone else was voting for him in the vain hope that someone might vote for them some day?

    Now, you take some advice from Uncle Keithy... Go find that Vodka bottle and do it some justice!

    All the best


  2. The lack of a real career and decent income were the main reasons I left France. I hated knowing that even with my education and experience, I would probably never make more than 14-18k a year and that's not good enough for me, especially since people with no education or experience earn the same amount. It really destroys your motivation!

  3. So you were lucky enough to get a job in your field, but even then the grass isn't green.. that's seriously depressing, Gwan. The upside I guess is that you are doing something you like, and you can leave whenever you've had enough.. It's very empowering when we realize our career future is in our own hands, and not somebody else's.
    I'm really confused though, as to why he's been given the permanent contract over everybody else -- did he pass some sort of concours or something? Otherwise I really don't see how that's possible!
    I'll have a virtual sympathy shot of vodka with you.

  4. Thanks for the comments. Keith - no, we've been told it's policy to sack people on CDDs before they get the chance to get a compulsory CDI.

    Jennie - Yes, I remember reading some of your thoughts on the subject. No plans to come back after the Masters then?

    Amber - Yeah, he passed a concours for the technician post. I get that, in theory, a concours is fair to everyone, but there are no posts available at our level, and even if there were, where's the concours for my job, which is expressly for a native speaker? It doesn't make sense that I would fail a normal concours (I don't know how concours for specific posts work, but the national concours for librarians has about a 7% passing rate, of which 2% get a post) when someone who would pass it with an intermediate level of English couldn't do my job.

  5. How about the uk, did you not like it here? Or back to nz? Xx


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