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French nannies strike against government 'coercive' reform

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FILE PHOTO: Pushchairs are parked at the entrance of a day-nursery in Vincennes, near Paris, April 30, 2003.
FILE PHOTO: Pushchairs are parked at the entrance of a day-nursery in Vincennes, near Paris, April 30, 2003. -
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REUTERS/Charles Platiau
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French nannies went on strike today (November 19) to protest against a government reform that they denounce as "coercive policing" of their activity.

France, a country envied worldwide for its childcare system, has an estimated 318,000 maternity assistants or "nannies".

Under a new bill, they will be required to register on a website operated by the Family Allowances Fund (monenfant.fr), specifying among other things how many children they can accommodate, their updated availability and their fees.

"The government has made the choice of a coercive method that, under the pretext of facilitating contact with employer parents, is actually policing," labour unions said in their call for a strike.

Stephane Fustec, a spokesperson for CGT labour union — which is among the organisations calling for strikes today — told Euronews that nannies feared that the obligation to mention their fees would lead to some form of "social dumping" on their remuneration.

Above all, he said, the strike is a "big shot of anger" at "purely budgetary logics which should not apply to childcare," Fustec said.

"We cannot force nannies to fill all their childcare capacity to the maximum."

"Childcare should be quality-based and not quantity-based," the CGT spokesperson said.

Fustec told Euronews that the exact number of nannies who took part in the movement was unknown. He said many still went to work in order not to disrupt their employer families while handing them a leaflet detailing their issues with the government reform.

"We are taking care of children, but do not organize activities outside. For meals, it is up to parents to provide them," said Laurence Joly, one of the spokesperson for the group Angry Maternity Assistants - "pink vests".

It remains to be seen whether the French government will respond favourably to the protesters' demands.

"The government was reassuring when the Senate debated the bill but we remain sceptical," Fustec said.

Earlier this year, "nannies" already protested against reform of their unemployment insurance scheme. The bill ended up being scrapped.

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