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In the shoes of an Atsem on strike

I am an Atsem and, you will see, the list of my missions is very long. But, first of all, do you know what an “Atsem” is? It is a territorial agent specialized in nursery schools. Clearly, it is the town hall that pays me: I am not part of the National Education. Moreover, if the law provides that any kindergarten class must benefit from the services of a municipal agent, there is no compulsory attendance time. And so, often, there is not one Atsem per class. This is also one of the demands of our strike today.

>> “We have had nothing, no recognition for years”: the Atsem on strike Monday for increased wages

What we ask above all is recognition… and not only that of the children who adore us and call us “mistress”, when their parents often see us as cleaners. But it’s not their parents’ fault because, it’s a fact, our profession is neither known nor recognized.

In 2018, Emmanuel Macron praised our work in 2018 and even spoke of us as“a treasure that we cannot do without”. Four years later, the treasure still earns a little less than the minimum wage at the start of their career. Today, we are officially part of the educational team, but that’s normal. It’s me who takes care of sores and consoles major sorrows, a mop always at hand for peeing accidents. These accidents have become far too numerous since school is compulsory at age 3.

There are also the educational objectives: directing the small groups, explaining the instructions, helping the children to hold their pencil in class and their fork in the canteen… In short, non-stop 9-hour days, with a twenty-minute break lunch often impossible to take. And, during the school holidays, I continue to tidy up, sort and put the classes back in place.

I’m going to let you in on a secret. Obviously, I support my 50,000 colleagues called to strike and hope that this time we will be heard. But, me, I am already preparing to return to class, first arrival. With the start of the school year that we had, I did not have the courage to abandon the teacher. We need solidarity not to give up, when we are always asked for more, for small children with great needs. In any case, thank you for allowing me to highlight my profession. If we are not finally recognized, we will perhaps be a little better known.

Fr2En Gb8

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