Tuesday, 8 September 2009

My world of Polished Plaster

Hey this is a 2m x 1.2m Bamboo in Orange art piece that I have just completed this weekend. Hope it gives you a flavor of the kinds of things I am producing. So time moves on at a rapid rate of knots and professions change with the wind it would seem - well not quite but to keep ones head above the water one has to go with the flow, so as to speak. This is the beginning of my 5th year in Montpellier and whilst it has been challenging it has been very rewarding living here.

Upon arrival in the sunny Languedoc region of l'Herault I new only three people - my wife, my son and my trusty friend Laurent Ness; Kitesurfing buddy and great ally in times of loosing the plot (thanks Laurent for being there for me).

During my initial search for work I was under the illusion that it would not be very difficult to find something to do here for a multi-faceted guy like myself. WRONG so WRONG!! As a design professional I thought it would be a cinch to find a French company looking to develop their portfolio and work with British clients and these companies exist without any doubt the only problem - French Employment Law what a night mare. Let me explain...

France as a Socialist Nation (regardless of political leaning) has some very ridiculous employment laws and as a result companies refuse the take any unnecessary risks when engaging people on business ventures. For example - if I were to travel to Lyon for a job I would have to have a work contract for two reasons: Firstly to know that I was going to be paid at the end of the month and secondly, to secure a flat or lodging the estate agent/proprietor will only rent property to people who have an CDI work contract - Full Time Contract. If you have a one year contract it is much more difficult to secure a flat but it is possible however, if you don't have a contract your basically 'up the creek without a Paddle!'. This is not too complex I hear you thinking and rightly so but the work contracts here come in 3 flavours:

CDI Contrat Durée Indeterminé = Open Contract of Engagement without Limit
CDD Contrat Durée Determiné = Fixed Term Contract of Engagement (6 months etc)
FreeLance - Limited to 3 months only after that you have to have a contract
Casual Labour - working via a third party employment agency for taxation reason
Undeclared Casual - Paid cash and undeclared to the state

If you secure a job everyone insists upon a CDI but the company who offer the contract then become stuck with that employee regardless of their working capacity. As a result most companies are scared shitless to take people on if they don't have a recommendation from someone they know and trust plus even then there is no guarantee. It has become a very closed market and if you don't have a good network of contacts the likelihood of getting a long term job is slight if not impossible to attain - in my experience.

So you have to work for yourself... There's no option on that front!!!

Is it complex starting your own business here...? I'll tell you more about that next time much to say that you have to be prepared to tolerate so much unnecessary paperwork and so many jack-ass functionary employees, who don't really know why they are employed by the state but just pitch up to collect a pay-cheque at the end of the month. But hey on the flip-side we are in France