URSSAF Director Clement (centre) underlined the ''exemplary'' character of the collaboration undertaken with the ITER Organization. Muriel Gauthier (right), representing the regional préfet, thanked the ITER Director-General for the establishment of the partnership arrangement.
As the flagship program of the international fusion community and a new kind of international collaboration in science, the ITER project has to demonstrate transparency and exemplarity in all of its activities. For questions of labour regulations on the ITER worksite—where some 3,000 workers will be active during the height of construction activities—the ITER Organization is working closely with the French authorities to protect against illegal labour practices among the contractors and sub-contractors.
In signing a partnership arrangement with the French social security agency URSSAF PACA on 1 February 2013, the ITER Organization has committed to facilitating that agency's mission of prevention—through information, education and inspection—of illegal labour practices on the ITER work site.
The ITER Organization was established as a public international organization in France, with the benefit of privileges and immunities that ensure its independence. However, the ITER Agreement (Article 14) stipulates that the Organization shall observe Host state laws and regulations in a certain number of cases, including public and occupational health and safety, nuclear safety, and environmental protection.
As a result, the French labour code applies to all contractors and sub-contractors present on the ITER worksite, irrespective of their country of origin, or that of their workers.
According to the conditions of the convention signed last week, URSSAF PACA will organize information/training sessions on labour laws and regulations for all companies involved in ITER construction. Inspections will be carried out on a regular basis, and a report made to the ITER Organization in the case of violation of French laws by contractors or sub-contractors.
The periodicity of URSSAF visits and information sessions, inspection and follow-up procedures, and access formalities are all specified in the document.
The ITER Organization-URSSAF PACA convention is based on a similar partnership arrangement that was in effect from 2007 to 2010 between Agence Iter France (charged with site preparatory works) and URSSAF PACA. With the transfer of the ITER site from Agence Iter France to the ITER Organization in 2010, this convention had become null and void.
"The prevention of illegal labour practices and of their human, social and economic consequences is our common preoccupation," said ITER Director-General during the signature ceremony. "ITER was launched 25 years ago as a scientific program to benefit the whole of humanity. It follows that in our daily practices we must be irreproachable."
Dominique Clement, URSSAF PACA director, underlined the "exemplary" character of the collaboration undertaken with the ITER Organization: "The ITER Organization has sent out a strong signal today, one that will serve as an example for all of the large building projects in the region."
Muriel Gauthier, representing Regional Prefect Hugues Parant, reminded the audience that—in a context of generalized economic difficulties—the prevention of illegal labour practices is a priority for the French government.
The convention signed last week will be tacitly renewed every year.