undocumented workers on Olympic construction sites

It’s a construction site like any other. One more where he is hired as a laborer for “digging, making concrete, masonry or storing equipment”. One more where he did “no contract, no payslip, no holidays”. Moussa (all those whose first name only appears have requested anonymity so as not to lose their job) is paid 80 euros per day, whether he ends at 5 p.m. or 9 p.m. Without papers and for thirteen years in France, this 42-year-old Malian does not take the risk of claiming his due. “We are here to survive, we have no choice, even if things did not go as we wanted, we are not going to give up”he breathes.

The construction site on which he has been pointing for almost four months is not just any, since it is the athletes’ village for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. In some six hundred days, it will accommodate 14,000 competitors and their staffs, straddling the municipalities of Saint-Denis, Saint-Ouen and Ile-Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis). An international showcase for real estate development and construction majors, the“embodiment of 21st century town planninge century “according to the terms of the public establishment in charge of the construction of the sites, the Company of delivery of the Olympic works (Solideo).

On site, several thousand workers and their management are currently present. Among them, Moussa says he did not meet many French people but especially West Africans, “Turks, Portuguese or Arabs”. He suspects that there are other workers in an irregular situation among them, but “we talk about everything except that on the worksites”. Discretion that suits everyone.

Moussa, 42, on Monday November 28, 2022, in Saint-Denis.  He has lived in France since 2009. He started working in the Olympic Village last August as a labourer.  He is working on the construction of athletes' accommodation for a Turkish subcontractor for Spie Batignolles.

Working “under alias”

Moussa works with the papers of a compatriot in good standing, to whom he pays part of his salary. This is called “working under an alias”. His employers? ” They do not care, said Musa. They just need us to send them papers by WhatsApp to make the access badges, but you can send them different ones at each construction site. » As for the main contractor, Spie Batignolles, Moussa meets his executives on a daily basis without his presence raising any questions – when contacted, the company did not follow up.

Before joining the building sector, Moussa worked in cleaning and catering. His wife, who remained in the country, has rebuilt her life, and his three children have grown up. He applied for a residence permit in 2017, but was refused. In 2021, he wanted to try his luck again, but he did not have an appointment until spring 2023 for an application to the prefecture of Seine-Saint-Denis.

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