In the press, in lengthy articles, parliamentary collaborators recount the ordeal that their elected officials are subjecting them to. In the Senate or the National Assembly, it’s pretty much the same story. In the vast majority of cases, relations with elected officials are good. But sometimes it gets stuck. Inappropriate behavior, pressure at work, inflammatory messages, sexual assault… The Assembly’s anti-harassment unit is preparing to celebrate its two years of existence. His role ? “Listening to, advising and supporting victims or witnesses of harassment.” A major advance in an institution rather accustomed until then to turn a blind eye. “It was a very important first step, we expected a lot”, confirm to Release Maxime Torrente, CFE-CGC delegate at the Palais Bourbon.
Monday January 10, a meeting was organized by the entourage of the ethics officer of the Assembly, bringing together the seven unions of parliamentary collaborators. Several information were communicated to them. A number first. Between February and October 2021, 19 people contacted the cell. In all cases, the reports fall under moral harassment, with the exception of one of them which combines moral and sexual harassment. In November, the cell was made aware of an additional fact, “very serious”, sexual harassment. As for the Assembly, it is operation transparency. What welcomes all the unions.
“Sword in the water”
Obviously, the reporting process can be improved. “The cell is outside the Assembly, there is no office to go to. The hotline set up with dedicated people is very good, but some harassed employees would need human contact and a face-to-face interlocutor ”, points out Maxime Torrente. the “Main concern”, according to Brian Blactot, member of the CGT, these are “The internal mechanisms of the National Assembly”. It is explained: “We are told of very serious facts, but there has been no report to the courts. Creating a cell is very good, but if there is no support afterwards, it’s still a sword in the water. “
The unions, in a joint statement, express their “incomprehension” facing the“Inaction of the institution”. Words are harsh. They are astonished that the ethics officer of the Assembly has not transmitted any of the numerous files to the public prosecutor. However, the law obliges him to do so. In article 40 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, it is written in black and white that “Any constituted authority, any public officer or civil servant who, in the exercise of his functions, acquires knowledge of a crime or an offense is required to give notice thereof without delay to the public prosecutor and to transmit to this magistrate all the information, minutes and documents relating to it ”.
“Continue to suffer”
The parallel is striking with the Senate where, on the same principle, President Gérard Larcher kept all the reports for himself, considering, “In his soul and conscience”, that there was no need to send them to justice. For the unions in the Assembly, this offers little prospect to employees who claim to be victims of harassment. These in front, as desired, “Continue to endure the situation, stop work or be forced to terminate the employment contract”.
So what can be done to prevent further abuses? “There are several steps to take immediately, starts Brian Blactot, who works for the elected Communist of Seine-Saint-Denis Marie-George Buffet. Better train elected officials, take internal sanctions against deputies, recognize a true employee status and better define our missions. ” The vagueness still reigns around this precarious profession, subject to the vagaries of the mandate and which, in addition, has neither job description nor collective agreement. In the Assembly, some speak of “Labor code lawless area”.