Donning a white hardhat and a bright orange vest, Benoît Hamon met with the night workers tasked with renovating Paris’s Raspail metro station on Tuesday night-or rather, very early Wednesday morning.
The Socialist presidential candidate asked the workers questions as he stood on the platform under construction: “How long have you been working nights?” “Did you decide on your own that you wanted to work nights?” “Does it pay better?”
Hamon organised the hour-long nocturnal visit, which went from 2.00 AM to about 3.00 AM, so as to observe firsthand the working conditions of those on the night shift.
Officials from the public transport operator for the city of Paris, the RATP, were also present as they explained the station’s renovation plans to Hamon.
‘Hamon tour by night’
The Socialist candidate’s nocturnal descent into the Paris metro was the first of his “Hamon tour by night”, which will take him to various work sites across the country.
“France doesn’t stop living at 9.00 PM,” he said. “There are civil servants who continue working at this time, but also employees in the private sector.”
“We don’t talk enough about the men and women who work nights during electoral campaigns,” he added.
Hamon also expressed interest in the working conditions of those on the graveyard shift. “I want to understand if this form of work is forced on people, or whether they freely choose to do it,” he said.
Candidate of the working class
Hamon’s nocturnal visits will aim to showcase his support for working people.
He’s had to go the extra mile to show that he is pro-employment due to his call for a universal basic income, a proposition that critics have called unrealistic, lazy and anti-work.
During his visit, Hamon pointed out that many working people feel abandoned by France’s ruling Socialist party, and have started to turn towards the far-right National Front (FN) party. He said that these are the people he wants to reach out to.
“The question isn’t why people vote FN. I don’t look down on people who decide to do so,” he said.
“What we must do is look into the real working conditions of today, and answer the questions that working people have,” he added.
He said that most French people aren’t preoccupied with questions of national identity, but with more concrete everyday issues.
“People think about how much they are paid, about their working conditions, about day care for their children,” he said.
“This is what I want to focus on in my campaign.”