Paris offers relief to dismissed 'wee-wee ladies'
The Paris town hall said Tuesday it would step in to help a group of toilet attendants known as "wee-wee ladies" fired by managers transforming their workplaces into trendy "boutique restrooms".
It was "profoundly shocking", said the city's head of human resources Emmanuel Gregoire, that the attendants, most in their sixties, had lost their jobs at tourist hotspots including Montmartre, Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe.
Known as "dames pipi" in French, the 11 cleaners were laid off in July when Dutch company 2theloo took over the toilets from a French firm.
2theloo specialises in high-end public toilets that combine restrooms with a store that sells everything from bags to cuddly toys.
French law says cleaners must be kept on by new employers, but 2theloo argues it is creating an entirely different service and is not bound by the rules.
"At 2theloo we believe that going to the toilet in public places... should be an extraordinary experience," it says on its website.
The Industrial Tribunal ruled on Tuesday that it would not allow an urgent hearing for six of the cleaners who have lodged complaints, but their cases will still be heard at a date that has yet to be fixed.
Decisions on the remaining cases will be taken next month. A lawyer for the wee-wee ladies said he would appeal the ruling.
"Our morale is very low," said Mahliya Fiokouna, the youngest of the claimants at 45 and a single mother of three children.
"If the city employs us that would be great because all we want is to work, we don't want to sign up for unemployment benefits," she added.
Gregoire said he would help the 11 cleaners find a "stable professional solution", if necessary by employing them directly.
© 2015 AFP