Do teachers have a right to withdraw if it is too cold in the classroom?

To reduce their expenses, schools no longer have any choice but to save energy, even if it means giving up the well-being of their pupils. Measures that are debated by some parents but also by teachers. And if it's too cold in the classrooms this winter, should teachers be expected to exercise their right to opt out? Response from the national secretary of the teachers' union Unsa.

  Do teachers have a right of withdrawal?'il fait trop froid en classe ?

Faced with the crisis of energy , the government has been clear. This winter, important energy savings and eco-gestures will have to be carried out by most French people, both in companies, in private individuals and in the public sector, which includes schools and universities. In his energy sobriety plan the government recommends that 'in premises used for teaching, when occupied, heating should be set at 19°C' maximum . On the other hand, if the buildings are unoccupied, ' the limits are set at 16°C (when the duration of non-occupation is equal to or greater than 24 hours and less than 48 hours) and 8°C (when the duration of non-occupation is equal to or greater than 48 hours)', in other words a weekend. But in practice, it is difficult for some schools to maintain such temperatures. As we saw recently, in the month of September, when the temperatures began to drop in several nursery and primary schools, local authorities did not hesitate to drastically reduce their expenditure, even if it meant not putting any heater in the classrooms. Results, in Longwy for example, in nursery schools, the thermostat displayed at times '13.8 degrees' and '14.3 degrees'. In this context, one can expect this winter that the heaters in the classroom, in the gymnasiums and even in the teachers' rooms, are particularly chilly. In this case, can teachers exercise their right of withdrawal in order not to teach? We put the question to Gilles Langlois, national secretary of the teachers' union Unsa.

Is the cold a reason to exercise your right of withdrawal?

'No, the right of withdrawal is an exceptional procedure which, according to the terms, corresponds to a serious and imminent danger . Low temperatures cannot be considered a serious and imminent danger. The procedure also requires alerting his superior, and the right of withdrawal is only exercised when there is a lack of response from the hierarchical authority. , Gilles Langlois tells us. In which case, the staff is exposed to sanctions, particularly in terms of remuneration. On the other hand, teachers have the right to raise their complaints with the headteacher to find solutions together. 'We will undoubtedly have cases of feedback, it has already happened even outside the current context. In general, it is then managed with the town halls' , who have control over the heating systems, comments the specialist.

Can timetables be arranged?

'For the moment, we have no information that goes in this direction. It would really have to be exceptional situations. It is the academic authorities who must take decisions on the suspension of schooling under conditions that would jeopardize students and staff' , says Gilles Langlois. In all cases, 'It's extremely complex to arrange or reduce students' timetables' , just for families who have to organize themselves in relation to their work.

For the time being, Gilles Langlois assures us, the personnel of the Education national are very attentive to what is looming for this winter. 'It must be the subject of a meeting of the occupational health and hygiene committee at the ministry this week' . Information on the subject will therefore no doubt be communicated soon.