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Wwoofers the law and fingerprints


Washy

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A friend of mine has just been 'invited' to go and see the gendarmes today.  She had been offering board and lodging to a young american guy in exchange for light duties around the house she found him on a web site.  He cut wood, walked the dogs, painted a door and did some gardening.  She has now been told she has committed a crime by doing this.  According to the gendarmesonly close relatives can be deemed as helping you out, not even cousins can help with the DIY without being classed as working on the black?????  I know the French have withdrawn from the WWoofer organisation and have organised their own scheme.

Now when she was at the gendarmerie she was fingerprinted and her photographs were taken, questioned about distinguishing marks etc.  She said she was not told she had committed a crime but 'could have', she signed a Proces Verbal.  At no time was she told she could have a lawyer and she said she did not really know what she was signing!!!!!!  She had a bit of a panic attack during the visit and was told as she left she should get a doctor's report and see a lawyer. In retrospect she isnow really worried.

I have now been trying to find out her actual rights in this case.  Can she ask for a copy of what she signed?  Can she retract it as she did not really understandthe procedures?

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Better still, who dobbed her in it for such a trivial matter, when there is more serious black work going on elsewhere? Looks like the website was being monitored.

Pity she signed anything though without a translation or translator being there. Seems like a bit or deliberate harrassment by an enthusisatic gendarme keen to crush a major crime syndicate.

 

 

 

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Washy, Only one answer and a helpful one I hope (as opposed to that [geek]above),  your friend must consult a solicitor (Avocat),  nobody on here I think is a qualified French Avocat, so look in Pages Jaune. To my mind she has no other option. 

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Washy, as I indicated above, I smell a little rattette here. Your friend has been harrassed for some reason. One could speculate about cracking down on foreigners, black work etc, but there is something stinky here. has your friend had any problems with neighbours etc?

What is the website she used? Does it make lots of offers for board in return for light duties?

 

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Is Wwoofers the "willing workers on organic farms" scheme? - I did some in New Zealand.

I watched a DIY programme on french Tv the other night, they showed a guy (with his voice and face scrambled) renovating his Paris apartment using a team of Polish black workers (not black Polish) he found through his Polish femme de menage who he also payed on the black.

They were ripping into things and really cracking on like I have never ever seen French artisans, they discussed how much he was saving, how he couldnt either afford the cost or the wait for registered artisans and then he candidly talked about the risks he was taking.

He considered an accident de travail to be his biggets risk and reasoned that URSAFF had bigger fish to fry than his works, later they showed the footage to, and interviewed an URSAFF representative who admitted that they had no rights of entry to private property to enforce the law should this site be reported to them.

And then I read the above post[:(] I sincerely hope that it is a wind-up.

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bit of a long shot.  Could your friend get out of this by claiming that she met him on the website and then had a 'relationship' with him and he came to live with her, and did normal spousal duties around the house.  Then the relationship fizzled out and he left.  If no money has passed between them then I think the gendarmes would be hard pushed to be able to prove anything - meeting on a website proves nothing about the actual relationship.  She could say that she was so upset about the breakdown of the relationship that she was in a tizzy at the gendarmerie and didn't know what she was signing...
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One point that seems to be missed is that gendarmes can basically do what they want. They aren't accountable to anybody, except perhaps the French military forces, which is exactly why they are so widely mistrusted and disliked by the French. A lot are reasonable people, but not all, unfortunately.

Although URSSAF does not have powers of search etc, the gendarmes do. And URSSAF frequently uses the gendarmerie in its 'investigations'.

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[quote user="Will"]

One point that seems to be missed is that gendarmes can basically do what they want. They aren't accountable to anybody, except perhaps the French military forces, which is exactly why they are so widely mistrusted and disliked by the French. A lot are reasonable people, but not all, unfortunately.

Although URSSAF does not have powers of search etc, the gendarmes do. And URSSAF frequently uses the gendarmerie in its 'investigations'.

[/quote]

For big construction sites employing mainly immigrant workers or little old ladies shacked up with with American wooff gigolos?[:D]

I still think its either a wind-up or there is more to it.

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[quote user="Washy"]A friend of mine has just been 'invited' to go and see the gendarmes today.  She had been offering board and lodging to a young american guy in exchange for light duties around the house she found him on a web site.  He cut wood, walked the dogs, painted a door and did some gardening.  She has now been told she has committed a crime by doing this.  According to the gendarmesonly close relatives can be deemed as helping you out, not even cousins can help with the DIY without being classed as working on the black?????  I know the French have withdrawn from the WWoofer organisation and have organised their own scheme.

Now when she was at the gendarmerie she was fingerprinted and her photographs were taken, questioned about distinguishing marks etc.  She said she was not told she had committed a crime but 'could have', she signed a Proces Verbal.  At no time was she told she could have a lawyer and she said she did not really know what she was signing!!!!!!  She had a bit of a panic attack during the visit and was told as she left she should get a doctor's report and see a lawyer. In retrospect she isnow really worried.

I have now been trying to find out her actual rights in this case.  Can she ask for a copy of what she signed?  Can she retract it as she did not really understandthe procedures?

[/quote]

Did this happen in your dept. e.g. 11

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Thanks for these commentsall of you.  Wooolybanana you are very astute...............there is more to this than meets the eye, and as I came across another person locally who contributed in the past to this site I do not want to go into details, but there is also an accrimonious divorce involved.

The lad was interviewed by the gendarmes and told he had nothing to worry about and he has hopped over to the Canary Islands for a break and may or may not come back. They told him it was his host who was in big trouble. The doctor I rang to get help for her yesterday already knew about her I suppose from the gendarmes.  She was confused between Notaire and Avocat so we have contacted an english speaking avocat today. 

Re black working, everyone in this very poor area is on the dole and works on the black, there is a refuge for Polish workers in a village not far away and no one seems to bother them at all, although they pop up all over the place working for various people. 

The most unfortunate thing is that we have a very large gendarmerie in the next village as this village is the head of the canton, although very small, and they just do not have enough to do.......they also train young Gendarmes here, we call them bébé gendarmes or gendarmettes and so often they just set up road blocks just outside the gendarmerie and stop everyone. This happens  so much it is ridiculous and people have already complained about harassement.

I have had to interpret  on various occasions for brits who have  been stopped  by the  gendarmes for  paper work errors on vehicles and  non matching patterns on sets of tyres.  Several of them visitors to our farm, and I often wondered if they had been stopped more to ask what they are doing here than anything else. Sometimes things have been resolved over the telephone, but when I have been called to the gendarmerie I have to countersign the Proces Verbal as the interpreter.

Our circle of friends, french and english, is quite concerned about all of this as we often get together to help each other with DIY.  Never any question of money involved, i.e; when we needed to put a concrete floor in our barn which was 75 mtrs square,  we had 3 cement mixers and 12 people here, followed by a barbeque, job done and a great social event. Now, if we apply the same rules that have my friend in trouble we have all been breaking french law, as only close family members can 'work' for you and this does not extend to cousins!!!

Time for me to do some research I think, and maybe they dropped me as an interpreter as they realized I am a Conseillere in my village????

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Not sure which sort of thing you mean, Chris?

The apparently compulsory visit at the gendarmerie described by the OP?

The seemingly over-zealous trainees stopping all and sundry for ID or vehicle checks?

A few months after we first arrived in the village, we came back from a day out to a very agitated and curious old biddy of a neighbour, who relished telling us the gendarmes had been over asking around about us, wanting to know where we lived and where we were.

For the next few weeks, all the "concerned" neighbour could ask me about was "Had you been down to the gendarmerie to find out what they wanted?".

My thinking was that if they needed us, for any specific reason, they knew where to find us. But they couldn't have been that concerned, as nothing happened for another 18 months, when two of them arrived and politely introduced themselves. They discussed the possibility of ETA members hiding in out area of the Lot (they were, but that's another story) and that was that.

As far as checks and controls go, they do happen here too. There's an annual one in the village centre, which somehow always seems to coincide with the end of the street festival in Aurillac, usually attended by "marginals" and other unconventional youths...[Www]

There was another which caught quite a few parents collecting their kids from the school without bothering to wear their seatbelts, so the gendarmes were not too popular with the locals, but then again, are they ever?

Mr Clair's papers have been checked at 2:30 in the morning, when he is on the way home from his night work, but I have never been checked myself.

Does that mean they know I'm French and he isn't? I think it's simply because he' s out in the car a lot more than I am, that's all.
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