A Facebook page, a petition, a white march and opposite, silence: social workers, moved and mobilized since the death, a month ago, of their colleague Audrey Adam, in the Aube, still demand a national tribute and recognition of their profession.
“On Wednesday, May 12, 2021, Audrey Adam, social and family economy adviser in the workforce of the Aube department, died in the performance of her duties, killed during a home visit”, recently recalled Didier Bourgoin, representative of the FSU.
The young woman, 36 years old and mother of two children, was shot dead by an 83-year-old man whom she was following, and to whom she had announced, shortly before, her imminent transfer. The octogenarian then committed suicide.
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Since the drama, which follows others in recent years in France, the atmosphere is heavy in Audrey Adam’s team. “Many are on sick leave, some colleagues are not feeling well, others are in full question and are wondering if they will not change their sector of activity, for their well-being and that of their loved ones “, tells AFP Sophie, 35, one of her colleagues.
A “violent” silence
“This event, this drama, shakes us all”, beyond the department of Aube, confides Béatrice Fauvinet, social worker in Tours and member of the territorial FSU. “This death is violent, the silence of the public authorities is violent, and the media treatment of Audrey’s murder”, considered largely insufficient by the profession as well as by the trade unions, “Is violent”, annoys Marie, 31, social worker.
The murder of Audrey Adam occurred a week after that of Brigadier Eric Masson, killed during an anti-drug operation in Avignon, and a few weeks after that of Stéphanie Monfeture, at the Rambouillet police station (Yvelines), by a Tunisian whose mode operative corresponds to the calls of the jihadist group Islamic State. While these two officials were posthumously decorated with the Legion of Honor and received a strong national tribute, Audrey Adam was buried discreetly, without a minister and without a camera, in the privacy of her village of 684 inhabitants, north of Troyes.
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And the fact that the Head of State went, a week after the death, to Pont-Sainte-Marie, 12 km from the tragedy, “Without making a hook at the bedside of the family” of the deceased leaves a bitter taste in the middle, according to Jacqueline Fiorentino, federal secretary at the CFDT. “We do not understand why, in a comparable situation, a civil servant, a social worker, does not have a national tribute”, is moved Béatrice Fauvinet. “Do we consider it normal to die in our profession? “, adds Marie.
Profession in the shadows
“Our feeling is that we are doing an invisible job in an invisible world”, that of the poorest, confides Béatrice Fauvinet, convinced that we want “Keep these professions in the shadows”. “Our job is to take care of the most fragile, the most precarious … Finally, all those that society does not want to see”, she believes.
Faced with this invisibility, Marie, Sophie and their colleagues launched a petition to ask “The support and recognition of social workers”. Posted almost a month ago, the petition, which has collected more than 45,000 signatures, must be handed over to Emmanuel Macron soon. “We are the guarantors of social peace, sometimes to the detriment of our life and often to the detriment of our security”, write these workers, several of whom have died in recent years in the exercise of their profession.
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According to the latest official data, “Social action professionals”, including social workers, are nearly 100,000 in France, about 90% women. “Many of us have experienced situations of violence during home visits, on duty, sometimes even in the courts … Our professions are among those with the highest level of psychosocial risks”, they report.
Kidnapped, threatened or raped
On the Facebook page launched in parallel with the petition, the messages are final: “I myself have been kidnapped once and threatened verbally and physically on several occasions!” The hardest part is to meet our violent beneficiaries in the private sphere and to fear for our children! “, confides anonymously a social worker. Another says:
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And the future worries. “The health situation has worsened the situation of the people”, notes Béatrice Fauvinet, “We emerge from this health crisis, from the various confinements, with people who are socially, economically and psychologically more fragile”.
At the same time, young women denounce a “Institutional violence, that linked to working conditions, 37 working hours” weekly which are still stretching, the number of families they follow (up to 62 for Sophie, up to 32 children against 22 normally for Sarah. And all this for 1,300 euros at the start of her career, after a Tray 3.
Institutional violence is also “That of management, which does not always support its employees”, says Marie. “The testimony that will remain with me is that of this colleague who was raped by a man she was assisting”, explains this social worker.
“His hierarchy considered that the rape was not related to work since it had taken place outside of his hours. “Violence and sexual harassment at work: “We cannot be satisfied with a right to resign! “
So that this violence is now measured, social workers are asking for the “Creation of an observatory of violence”, a “Recognition in a risky profession”, additional budgetary resources, and “That a national tribute to Audrey Adam be offered to her family”.
The opposite would be “Incomprehensible”, according to Sarah, who recalls that Emmanuel Macron wanted in May the creation of a statute of “Died for the service of the Republic”, for public service employees “Deceased in exceptional circumstances”.