In Montpellier (Hérault), the Atsem (Territorial agents specializing in nursery schools) have started a renewable strike. This Monday, they – they are mainly women – were dozens to show their anger at the foot of the town hall. A decision by the municipality is at the heart of their protest: since the start of the school year, it has decided to add reception and animation times after class (Taac) to their missions. A task which is usually entrusted to individual contractors, often students.
While a law, passed in 2019, requires to align the working time of these officials with that of the private sector, in Montpellier, it is between 70 and 100 hours that must be made up. More than in most big cities. To meet this obligation, the municipality has chosen to add this new workload to them.
“Animation is a real job! “
The Atsem do not reject the law, but the way the city applies it. “We cannot ask someone to be in contact with children from 7.45 am to 5.30 pm continuously,” said Sylvie Cobos, CGT and Atsem delegate for 39 years. In the morning, we start with the reception, then the class, the canteen, the class. And now, the Taac. Animation is a real job! We don’t have time to prepare. And after nine hours of work, the more patience. “
“It’s not our job! Impossible, for us, to organize any workshop, notes an Atsem. We give them a taste, and we leave them free while ensuring their safety. Nothing more can be done. »And, adds one of his colleagues,« with this organization, we no longer have time to tidy up the class, to prepare for the next day ».
For these officials, with this new organization, the municipality does not take into account the arduous nature of their job. “We work in noise, at more than 90 decibels at noon, bent over, on furniture suitable for children. Some have their backs in compote! One of them growls. Parents of students were there, too, this Monday, to support the agents. “Everyone has their own job, each their diploma,” says Monique, mother and co-founder of the Collective of parents delegates from primary school in Montpellier. The Atsem are not animators. They stand in for the teacher. The animators play games, workshops. It’s not the same thing. “
“It’s pedagogical nonsense”
Alenka Doulain (We are), municipal councilor of the opposition, was on the forecourt of the town hall this Monday morning to support the profession. For the elected, “we must review the copy.” “The real question is: What do we offer to children during the Taac? An educational project, to stimulate the awakening of children? If we send exhausted people, it is educational nonsense, ”she laments.
For her part, Fanny Dombre-Coste (PS), deputy mayor in charge of education, defends the city’s decision, established “after four months of discussions with the trade unions”. “Our priority is the child, the children’s academic success, and we have proven it,” says the elected official. We wish to strengthen the educational role of Atsem. In most of the other big cities in France, the Atsem do the daily cleaning of the premises. This is not the case in Montpellier. “
For the chosen one, the Atsem have their place in the Taac. “The animators, temporary, change regularly, and do not know the children,” she notes. However, parents want to know how their child’s day went. “The Atsems, they know the little ones,” continues Fanny Dombre-Coste. And then, “in reality, the Taac, in kindergarten, it’s a snack, then, essentially rest. It’s not really animation. It has little to do with what is done in elementary. “
This new organization of work has not, moreover, confided the elected representative, was not motivated by a desire for economy. “We need facilitators, and we are recruiting hard,” she says. As for the hardship and fatigue evoked by the Atsem, the elected official said to be “aware” of it. “They still have compensations”, including “16 weeks of vacation” and “two more days of rest” per year.