Wanted in France: Thousands of Workers as Hotels and Restaurants Reopen 法國餐旅業迎解封 喊缺工10萬
For six months, Christophe Thiriet has waited for France's grinding national lockdowns to be lifted so he can reopen his company's restaurants and hotels in a picturesque corner of eastern France and recall the 150 employees who were furloughed months ago.
But when he asked them to return for a reopening in mid-May, he faced an unexpected headache: At least 30 said they wouldn't be coming back, leaving him scrambling to hire new workers just as he needed to swing into action.
"When you close things for so long, people think twice about whether they want to stay," said Thiriet, a co-manager of the Heintz Group.
Restaurants and hotels across the country are facing the same problem. After months on furlough, workers in droves are deciding not to return to jobs in the hospitality industry.
A shortfall of perhaps as many as 100,000 restaurant and hotel workers is especially troubling, because hundreds of thousands of people are looking for work after France's worst recession in decades. Employers say it is becoming harder to lure job seekers to an industry whose future is more or less tethered to the vagaries of the coronavirus and the uncertainty of vaccine campaigns.
The missing manpower conundrum has emerged as thousands of hotels and restaurants that survived the crisis pivot toward trying to make up for an 80% plunge in business since last spring. The COVID-19 lockdowns have cost France's tourism industry, a cornerstone of the economy, more than 60 billion euros in lost revenue since last year.
"We know we're going to have customers again this summer — that's not the problem," said Yann France, the owner of La Flambée, a restaurant in the popular northern seaside city of Deauville. "The concern is that we won't have an adequate workforce at a time when we need to make up for a huge loss in sales."
Some say the problem may not be so stark, since international visitors aren't yet flocking back to France, and job seekers, including students who need work to help make ends meet, could eventually fill any shortfall.
But others say the precariousness of the businesses is the broader question.
"The bigger issue is the uncertainty over the industry's future," said Thierry Gregoire, the owner of NT Hotel Gallery group, which owns five hotels and three restaurants around Toulouse. "Will things stay open, or could there be another shutdown because of a new virus?"
「更大的問題是這個產業未來的不確定性。」在土魯斯擁有五間飯店和三間餐廳的NT Hotel Gallery集團老闆泰希．葛黑卦說，「開放狀態能否就此維持，或是又有隨新病毒而來的另一次封城？」
Germany Sets Out Plans to Return Benin Bronzes 反省殖民史 德將歸還非洲文物
Germany will begin returning a "substantial" number of the priceless artifacts known as the Benin Bronzes from its museums to Nigeria next year, its culture ministry said earlier this month.
The artifacts, which the British army looted in an 1897 raid on Benin City in what is now Nigeria, are scattered through museums and private collections around the world. Germany's announcement, the first by a national government with a timetable attached, comes as momentum is growing on both sides of the Atlantic to return the stolen objects.
An online meeting of government officials, regional legislators and museum administrators reached an agreement that German institutions —which own hundreds of the bronzes — would step up talks with Nigerian partners and strive to make the first returns next year.
"We are facing the historical and moral responsibility to bring Germany's colonial past to light and to come to terms with it," Monika Grütters, Germany's culture minister, said in a news release. "Dealing with the Benin Bronzes is a touchstone."
The bronzes (which, despite the name, include items made from ivory, brass and wood) will probably be housed in the planned Edo Museum of West African Art in Benin City, which architect David Adjaye is designing on behalf of the Legacy Restoration Trust, a group that represents Nigeria's government, regional authorities and the royal court of Benin.
The trust hopes to open the museum in 2025, although the timeline has already been pushed back several times.Victor Ehikhamenor, a trustee, welcomed the German announcement."If this works, it will create a blueprint for others," he said in a telephone interview.
Germany will publish an inventory of all the Benin Bronzes in its museums by June 15. Details of those items' provenance, including if they were looted, will be made available by the end of the year. However, Germany hopes some bronzes will remain in the country.
Ehikhamenor said he had no problem with items being on display in Germany, as long as their legal ownership was transferred to the museum in Benin City.
Germans have long struggled to atone for the country's Nazi past, but in recent years, the public debate has also shifted to examine Germany's role as a colonial power in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. In 2019, Germany's 16 regions, which are responsible for cultural policy, signed an agreement saying they would work toward returning artifacts taken from former colonies.