Economy "We have been despised" ... Seasonal workers explain why...

“We have been despised” … Seasonal workers explain why they will not put the apron back on this summer

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Restaurants are looking to hire to keep their business running at full speed. – SYSPEO / SIPA

  • The hotel and catering industry is in the process of recruiting seasonal workers for this summer.
  • But after months of shutdown, some explain to 20 Minutes why they won’t resume.
  • In addition to the lack of professional consideration, the reform of unemployment insurance is the subject of many fears.

Bars in lack of servers, restaurants in shortage of divers? This is the fear of many professionals in the hotel and restaurant industry. While the summer season promises to be crucial to relaunch after months of closure, the sector plans, according to Pôle Emploi, 300,000 recruitments this year – including 80,000 servers and 44,000 cooks – often on fixed-term contracts. And seasonal workers could be missed. A lack of staff which, for some establishments, is even already a reality.

Many of these workers explained to “ 20 Minutes »Why they had decided to turn the page on the hotel and restaurant industry. After more than a year of hardship caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, some tell us that the profession is simply no longer attractive.

“The summer of 2020 has been very difficult,” says Stéphanie, a seasonal worker used to working in hotels around Saint-Tropez. We were understaffed with a huge influx of customers. The service was therefore difficult, and I had no recognition from my employer ”. The coming season will therefore be without it. Same choice for Camille, after seven years spent chaining contracts for different caterers. “There is no guarantee that we can continue to work in the event of a third or fourth epidemic wave,” she explains.

“We are not numbers on a schedule”

For Carlos, a former butler, the coronavirus epidemic will also have been a trigger. “Our profession is neither considered nor respected. Endless hours, the salary remains miserable. If you work weekends, no bonus. The social life ? A disaster “. Thierry, another regular in the sector, gets annoyed: “We were fired like disposable handkerchiefs, and now we should come back to the hotel and catering industry? We are not numbers on a schedule or pawns but people, human beings ”.

Seasonal workers tired of their job? This does not worry Thierry Grégoire, president of the Seasonal Umih, the main employers’ organization in the hotel and catering sector. “We have always had turnover in the profession. That after months of confinement, some have other aspirations, I find that healthy. I can also understand that some people no longer want to work on weekends or in the evening to preserve their family life. But in our jobs, by definition, we work when others are resting or on vacation. This difficulty will therefore always arise ”.

A criticized reform

Employers are not the only ones to be singled out by seasonal workers. The policy pursued by the executive is also cited as a major cause of demotivation. “We were supposedly entitled to aid of 900 euros during the months of shutdown,” explains Camille. But in fact, very few have received this amount, given the criteria required. We have been looked down upon by the government ”.

The unemployment insurance reform – suspended since the summer of 2020 and expected on July 1 – is also a source of concern, according to the testimony we have received. It provides for an increase in the minimum working time to be compensated: six months (out of the twenty-four preceding the period of unemployment), against four months currently. The threshold for reloading rights must also be increased to six months. For example, a seasonal worker who has been unemployed since March and who works in June-July-August (ie three months) before returning to unemployment would no longer have additional rights. Finally, the reform of the method of calculating the allowance could lead to a reduction in rights – already low – for those who alternate short contracts and inactivity.

Go look somewhere else

“The seasonal hotel business has no future with this reform,” regrets Alexandre, who has been in the business for twelve years. “I have to leave this life with regret,” confirms Pierre, 38-year-old chef. I used to work hard six months a year, six or seven days a week. This pace allowed me to travel and develop personal projects during my months of unemployment. With the new reform, this will no longer be possible ”.

Some have therefore decided to take advantage of the months spent away from the counter or the kitchens to consider retraining. “I prefer to train remotely for the moment, in order to improve my skills and let things return a little more to normal before, possibly, to repeat seasons” confides Marie-Cécile, receptionist of 24 years. “I am training in logistics and IT with an opening on positions to be filled in 35 hours, with a gross salary of 1,900 euros, much more than in catering” concludes Thierry.

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