Confused social situation at the Bemberg Foundation

Of the 22 employees in place before the closure for works, in 2020, the Bemberg Foundation will ultimately have retained only one. If most (10) signed a collective contractual termination negotiated with the Toulouse private museum just before the work, seven employees intended to return to their jobs with the inauguration of the renovated museum trail on February 2. For these five tour guides and two security agents, the reopening celebration had a bitter taste: the rehiring commitment provided for in the agreement they had concluded with the Foundation was not respected, according to them, by management.

To obtain this commitment from their employer, the seven employees had given up part of their compensation, with the prospect of returning to their jobs at the end of the renovation work. “When the reopening loomed, we showed up, without getting any feedback. We were not invited in advance to discover the museography in order to prepare our visits, any more than we were invited to the opening. We even learned the date of the reopening through the press”explains Laurette Simon, guide-lecturer.

At the start of the year, the Foundation also parted ways with the two employees of its educational department, although they were kept in place during the project, preparing to mediate the new course. This dismissal occurs in a work context that the two employees concerned describe as having deteriorated significantly since the appointment of the new director, Ana Debenedetti, in July 2022. “Since his arrival, our working conditions have deteriorated, our skills called into question. However, a 2021 audit showed that the service was working well”notes Cécile Pistre, former director of the educational service.

On sick leave in April 2023 (the Foundation was then closed) for “professional burnout”, the latter was summoned with her colleague for a first dismissal interview on January 5, 2024. Occupational medicine noted the degraded state of health of the two members of the educational service and declared them unfit on January 9; on the 25th, the Bemberg Foundation dismissed them for incapacity. Cécile Pistre now believes that she was “pushed out” for economic reasons: with almost thirty years of experience, the two employees were among the highest earners at the Foundation.

“All these elements lead us to believe that the Foundation has implemented what appears to us today to be a deliberate strategy. (…) Their attitude reveals a state of mind: the contempt with which they regard employees and the violence with which they treat them”denounces a press release from the Bemberg Collective, bringing together former employees of the Foundation.

The management of the Foundation did not wish to specify to the Journal des Arts how the mediation missions will be carried out. “The Bemberg Foundation does not intend to comment on the false or incomplete information apparently disseminated by some of its former employees”informs the institution, which assures that it wanted to maintain a “dialogue” with the employees benefiting from the rehiring commitment. “(The Foundation) wanted to schedule interviews with each of the allegedly interested people (…). These people did not follow up”says a press release from the museum.

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