French bus drivers don skirts in protest after petition to wear shorts is shown 'non, merci'

The story mirrors a British call centre worker who returned to work in a dress after being sent home for turning up in shorts

Bus drivers in the French city of Nantes have taken to wearing skirts while on the job after they were banned by city officials from wearing shorts despite the heat wave gripping most of Europe.

Having requested to change from their mandated trousers to shorts to cope with the raised temperatures in their buses, the drivers accused their employers of enforcing unacceptable conditions and switched to skirts in protest.

“Our uniform is not appropriate for these high temperatures,” Didier Sauvetre, a driver and member of the CFDT union, told the local Presse Océan website.

“We envy women at moments like this. Given that skirts are an authorised outfit in the company, we are wearing skirts.”

Sauvetre was backed up by another union representative, with Gabriel Magner adding: “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.

“In this heat wave, the temperatures are reaching close to 50 ̊c behind our windscreens. And given we have no air conditioning on our buses, it’s unbearable.”

France’s notoriously exacting labour codes do not ban men from wearing shorts on the job, but the decision is usually taken by employers. But while Semitan, the Nantes transport authority, does not approve of the concept, union officials have reminded their members that they have the right to ‘down tools’ if they believe their health is endangered by hazardous working conditions, including extreme temperatures.

The Nantes skirts come hot on the heels of a British man’s decision to return to work wearing his mother’s dress after he was sent home for turning up wearing shorts.

Joey Barge, a Buckinghamshire man who works in a call centre, was told to return to work in mandated attire after turning up at his office, where temperatures were hitting a high of 30 ̊c.

Posting an image of himself in a dress, allowed in the company’s official dress code, Barge’s sartorial protest went viral, leading to what he determined was a “partial win” when the company he works for made the decision to allow shorts in exceptional circumstances.

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