Lonely Planet Writer

French male bus-drivers show who showed up to work in skirts, win right to wear shorts during heatwave

People all over Europe were sizzling under a heatwave this week, but spare a thought for those workers who have to stifle under sweltering uniforms. One group of bus drivers in France decided to take matters into their own hands by introducing a different form of air-conditioning.

In Nantes, the temperature this week hit a whopping 37°C, 14 degrees above the historical average for the time of year. Despite this, the male drivers were still instructed to keep to their normal uniform of long trousers, a state of affairs the drivers say make their working conditions unacceptable.

The French have a well-earned reputation for perfecting the art of the protest and this is no exception. Female drivers are allowed wear skirts while male bus drivers have been told that shorts are inappropriate. Their solution; simply don skirts for the day.

The bus drivers told Presse Ocean that it was a form of discrimination, especially since the public can’t see what they’re wearing in their driving cabins. There is no air-conditioning on the buses and they say temperatures can reach up to 50°C inside the vehicle.  Today the bus company Semitan reversed it’s ban on shorts after drivers made headlines around the world when a video of a group of them in skirts went viral.

Parisians and tourists enjoy cooling down in the water of the fountain of the Trocadero next to the Eiffel Tower. Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images
Parisians and tourists enjoy cooling down in the water of the fountain of the Trocadero next to the Eiffel Tower. Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images

The bus drivers are not the only people in Europe making a stand against dress codes and breaking some gender norms while they’re at it. At a school in Devon, a group of teenage boys made headlines as they arrived into class wearing skirts after being told that shorts were again unacceptable.