Residents launch petition to support Cédric Vaivre, who opened seven days a week
A French boulanger has been ordered to pay a €3,000 fine for working too hard after he failed to close his shop for one day a week last summer.
Loyal customers in the town of Lusigny-sur-Barse, population 2,000, in the Aube department of north France, an area popular with tourists, have now launched a petition in support of Cédric Vaivre and his Boulangerie du Lac.
Christian Branle, the town’s mayor, defended the baker. “In a tourist area, it seems essential that a business can open every day during the summer. There’s nothing worse than closed shops when there are tourists,” Branle told L’Est Eclair newspaper, after the fine was levied by employment authority officials.
Under local employment law, two separate regulations from 1994 and 2000 require bakers’ shops to close once a week – though exceptions can be made in specific cases.
Until 2016, the Lusigny-sur-Barse boulangerie had applied for and obtained an exception to the rule, but officials refused to renew Vaivre’s application last year.
The petition, launched two weeks ago, has nearly 2,000 signatures so far, However, no change in the law has been proposed and Vaivre has been told the fine stands. “We just want to open like this during the summer, not all the year,” Vaivre said.
He has been advised the only way to get around the regulations would be to open a second boulangerie with different opening hours.
“There has to be some common sense, especially in small rural places,” Branle told French television. “We’re not in an area where there’s lots of competition … let people work when there are visitors expecting a service.”
It seems Vaivre may be in a minority, however. The federation of Aube boulangeries and patisseries questioned 126 members at the end of last year: the majority were in favour of maintaining the obligatory one-day closure.
Eric Scherrer of the retail union CLIC-P, said French employment laws were there to protect workers and employers and had to be respected.
“There’s a rule in place that says bakers and other professions in the food industry must close for at least one day a week because it’s an artisanal trade where people can work a lot, much more than the legal limits,” Scherrer told The Local.
“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.”