In Montpellier, Espace Propreté dreams of a placement for immigrants with permanent contracts

It’s simple to say that Muriel Fournier, directorHygiene area, a cleaning company with 40 employees and headquartered in Montpellier, takes its time to expose the employees’ sometimes Kafkaesque attitudes. Due to staffing difficulties, half of its teams are from outside Europe: mainly from the Maghreb, Turkey, Nigeria and Madagascar.

Immigrants “without qualifications, who hardly speak French, and know nothing of cleaning jobs.” “We hire those who want to work. We are not in professions. Few people want to get up at five in the morning to go and clean the toilets … even if our wages are just above the minimum wage,” she says.

For each employment of a non-European employee, the manager, in conjunction with her lawyer specializing in employment law, must comply with a strict legal framework. But sometimes you have to quarrel with the conservatism: “During Covid, I’ve gone through the offices of local MPs and employers’ organizations to support my requests,” she says.

5,500 euros in compensation

The principal is involved in integrating her staff and has launched an appeal for donations to help one of them furnish his apartment. Defend other people when they have to leave France.

During a procedure, the political refugee’s lawyer asked him to suspend his employment contract rather than fire her. She was eventually fired. “I had to make it up to €5,500 for her, even though she was on a regular basis when she was hired and we both wanted to continue working together!” she exclaims.


Muriel Fournier expects more clarity from the immigration bill, particularly in terms of defining which professions are in short supply. “And what will be the tangible consequences, on a day-to-day basis, for me, in terms of procedures? I don’t know. She is asking for a specific status for employees who are on permanent contracts. According to her, the residence permit should be renewed automatically.

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Another wish: Establishing a distinguished entrance road to the governorates for employees with permanent contracts. “We are not aware of this parallel world, which is made of trouble and resourcefulness. These people pay taxes and contribute. They deserve better treatment.

His primary fear of future law? that the regulations are “more complex to follow, with more restrictions on the regularity of our employment”. Faced with “increasingly time-consuming” administrative tasks, Muriel Fournier hired a full-time dedicated HR person, “a significant cost to an SME”. Created twenty-five years ago, Espace Propreté has a turnover of €895,000.

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