Letters – phoney jobs


This week, we are opening up a debate about the recent article concerning phoney jobs in Montpellier.

A Languedoc Living reader wrote:

Your reaction to the ‘phoney jobs’ feature must be shared by all of us expats who have taken great pride in working long and hard hours in the UK before we retired.

I suspect that if this now occurred in the UK it would carry a custodial sentence. 

Will the money clawed back from the salaries that these people have pocketed mean a reduction in the taxes that we pay the French government every year? Will it be clawed back? And this is not the first example the media has brought to our attention.

The trouble is, we’ve become inured to this situation as an ingrained part of French life. The French Revolution has a lot to answer for! And before readers criticise us for being querulous geriatric curmudgeons (!), I have to say that most of our hard-working French friends who don’t work in the bureaucratic system will agree with us. Mention the word ‘fonctionnaire’ and you’ll get a tirade of verbal abuse – normalement – but it’s surely more to do with the fact they’re allowed to get away with this by cowardly bosses who prefer to acquiesce to the unacceptable demands of their underlings, whose work ethic is defined simply by the strength of purpose to get into work and get out as soon as possible with as little effort and personal stress as possible.

Health, tax, and town hall administrations are equally afflicted by a disrespect for the job they’re supposed to be paid for i.e. service to the local – and wider – community.

I hope readers will be able to quote more positive experiences than ours.

Having visited France for more than 50 years, and lived here on and off for the last 20 years, we have enjoyed a quality of life that is second-to-none. This does not prevent us from reacting angrily to such revelations in an area of French life that continues to be our (sole?) bugbear.

We have no answers. France will never change. It still clings to outdated industrial policies and practices that should have been ditched in the seventies.

Successive governments continue to be afraid to take on the Unions, even though the Unions represent only a minority of the working population!

We will continue to enjoy our life here, and will clearly need to be more tolerant of such abuses in the future, if for no other reason than to minimise our own stress levels!

Thanks for your honest and invariably ‘spot-on’ assessment of such matters.


Thank you, Anonymous Reader, for your lengthy comment.

I think we’ve seen a strange paradox this week. Ghost jobs go unpunished, apparently, whilst kidnapping employees at GoodYear get sent down. Both are extreme examples designed to keep us all confused and guessing, I feel.

Although not a perfect dichotomy, this has all the signs of what France represents to me. A people who will seemingly vote en masse for change (e.g. Sarkozy) but then staunchly defend the status quo at every turn, preventing any kind of change where possible.

But, after all, isn’t that the France that many of us want so much to protect and retain too? Not sure how we can have one without the other?