• France's news in English

'France right to stop baker working too much'

Ben McPartland · 11 Feb 2015, 14:55

Published: 11 Feb 2015 14:55 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

“I have been open seven days a week for three and a half years. I have created jobs and wealth. I don’t know why they are preventing me from doing it.”

This was the response from an aggrieved baker in the south west of France, after French authorities forced him to close one day a week, as the law states he must.

The fact Stéphane Cazenave won the 2014 prize for the best baguette in France did not mean anything to the local authorities. For them, rules are rules or more to the point, a boulangerie in France can open seven days a week, but it must stop selling bread for a 24-hour period.

The ruling against Cazenave, which he says will see him lose €250,000 a year and force him to lay-off some of his 22 staff, has caused a storm in France, with politicians wading into the row about French regulations stifling businesses.

(Stephane Cazenave the baker who bakes too much bread. Photo: France3)

Summing up the frustration of those backing the baker former PM François Fillon said: “The fact that working in our country can be considered an offence and that the passion of a craftsman can be restricted, should alert us to the absurdity of our system."

But there are others who back the bureaucrats, including Eric Scherrer from the retail trade union CLIC-P, who tells The Local that French laws must be respected and that they are not complicated.

“Firstly if laws are not respected then they are no longer laws. It’s not just in France that it works like that," Scherrer says. "Do I have the right to go out and drive at 300km per hour because I don’t want to respect the law? Where do we stop?

“There is a rule in place that says bakers and other professions in the food industry must close for at least one day a week. It’s because it’s an artisanal trade where people can work a lot, much more than the legal limits," he adds.

“These people need to have a rest day each week. We can’t just allow them to work non-stop. It’s absolutely necessary that both bosses and employees have a day of rest."

The union chief stresses that the regulations were made up by professionals and tradesmen, not bureaucrats in an office in Paris.

"We understand these rules and we have to remember they were laid down by professionals through collective agreements.

“It’s not the state that decided these rules in the first place, it just enforces them. They can work how they want for six days a week but they must be closed for one day.

Scherrer says by having to close for a day other businesses in the area, in this case rival boulangeries, can survive.

“There’s also the fact that it avoids unfair competition. If we allow shops to open all week then the weakest will simply go out of business. The competition will kill them off.

Story continues below…

“In the US and the UK we see big companies suing others for unfair competition, so it’s not just in France that this principle is important," he says.

Scherrer also dismisses the accusation frequently made abroad, that France is full of complicated regulations that are killing businesses.

“Sometimes people give the impression the UK has no rules around business and commerce, but there are rules,” he said.

“It’s not just because the UK doesn’t understand the rules in France that it means they are bad.

“It’s false to say there are only complicated rules in France. It’s just a lack of understanding. And the same goes for French views of British laws that we don’t understand.”

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
French MPs vote to make Airbnb 'professionals' pay tax
Photo: AFP

Do you make a lot of money through Airbnb in France? You'll have to pay a share to the taxman in future.

France and Britain accused of abandoning Calais minors
Photo: AFP

Scores of young migrants are forced to sleep rough for a second night.

France given wake up call as it bids for Brexit business
The business district 'La Defense' in Paris. Photo: AFP

France clearly has some work to do if it really wants to pinch business from the UK post-Brexit.

Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
Do you know the French word for throat-support? Photo: AFP

Word of warning: Don't translate French literally.

How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Yellow smoke rises around French police officers in Paris holding a banner reading "Solidarity with our colleagues, police angry". All photos: AFP

Could these measures stop the cops from protesting?

'3,000 migrants dispersed' after 'Jungle' clearance
Photo: AFP

While thousands of migrants have been bussed out around France, new ones are arriving all the time and thousands of others have simply been dispersed aid agencies say.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Photo: Matthew Powell/Flickr

A must read for anyone who wants to stay on the right side of the law in France.

Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
The town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Photo: Aa77zz/Flickr

Aliens take note.

American tourist dies at French Riviera sex club
The Riviera resort of Cannes. Photo: AFP

American tourist reportedly fell five floors after being pushed outside the underground sex club in Cannes.

Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Photo: SeaBubbles

An in Seine idea surely? But tests will go ahead.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available