Emna Charrad, a life in pieces

She has worked here for almost a quarter of a century; at 64, she is still wearing herself out. The horizon of retirement is uncertain: next year, perhaps, with no hope of receiving a decent pension, after a lifetime of hard work. Emna Charrad is a cleaner at the Sorbonne Nord University in Villetaneuse, in Seine-Saint-Denis. With her colleagues, this Thursday, she put down buckets, rags and brooms, for 59 minutes: these workers demand from their employer, the Agenor group, a better salary, less trying working conditions and, above all, that they are respected. , that the injunctions and bullying cease. “This society makes us see all the colors. Before, it was Arcade, Arc-en-ciel, then Derichebourg. Agenor is the worst, she sighs. They threaten us, burden us with work. I have twelve classrooms to do every day. They force us to work from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., then from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., even though the university is not opposed to combining our hours in the morning: they know that we do our job well and that nothing changes for them. » This division of working time makes life impossible for those who live far away, in Aubervilliers, Dugny, Noisy-le-Sec, forced to exhausting round trips by public transport. It has happened that some housekeepers take the initiative to do their six hours in a row to loosen the constraints that this work organization imposes on their private and family life: they have immediately received warnings.

“They have a contempt for us…”

Emna describes the indifference that surrounds her work, essential to social life but invisible. It calls into question a brutal, authoritarian management, said to work under pressure, in the permanent anguish of sanctions always ready to fall. “The team leader scares people. She humiliates us. She broke the construction site”she accuses. “These essential workers are being bullied with no regard for their dignity. We take them for mops »confirms Selim Hocini, of the local CGT union.

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Under the glass roofs of the forum, dressed in their gray and fuchsia blouses, the cleaning ladies are gathered, tight against each other, discreet but proud of the challenge that this mobilization throws at their employer. Representatives of university staff parade at the microphone to express their solidarity. Heads for their exams, the students, in a hurry, throw a surprised look at this unusual uproar. Around the strikers, their counterparts working for the municipality of Villetaneuse, in blue blouses, came to support them at the call of the CGT. Among them, Odile, blond and short hair, clear eyes, biting words, her wrist tight in an orthosis. She suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome, a musculoskeletal disorder never previously recognized in her case as an occupational disease. From a fall at work, four years ago, she also kept four screws in her shoulder. She started working at 16. Aged 60, she cannot yet retire: her years of apprenticeship and the two-year work stoppage following her accident are deducted from the total of her annuities. The same words come to both women to describe their condition: “They have a contempt for us…”

the best armed of the group

Amplified by the megaphones of CGT activists, the slogans fuse: “Housekeeping, slavery! », “Subcontracting, mistreatment! » Among the cleaners on campus, most of whom are from Africa, some have never gone to school: they can neither read nor write. Others have a poor command of the French language and even less of the administrative jargon. One of them, tell the strikers, was asked to sign a letter of resignation which she had not even been able to decipher the meaning. Coming in the early 1980s from southern Tunisia, Emna seems the best armed of the group, the least vulnerable. It was she who convinced her comrades to mobilize. She then pushed the door of the local CGT union, which she had spotted in her street. She does not regret it: “We had never found a union that defended us like that. “We don’t ask for much: respect, working 35 hours, earning a little better living, she smiled. My husband is sick, he no longer works, I manage everything, I bring home the only salary. I earn 1,100 euros per month, with a rent of 700 euros. We raised our children with these crumbs. » At the end of a lifetime of work, Emna wants to raise her head.

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