A - I n f o s

a multi-lingual news service by, for, and about anarchists **
News in all languages
Last 40 posts (Homepage) Last two weeks' posts Our archives of old posts

The last 100 posts, according to language
Greek_ 中文 Chinese_ Castellano_ Deutsch_ Nederlands_ English_ Français_ Italiano_ Polski_ Português_ Russkyi_ Suomi_ Svenska_ Türkçe_ _The.Supplement

The First Few Lines of The Last 10 posts in:
Castellano_ Deutsch_ Nederlands_ English_ Français_ Italiano_ Polski_ Português_ Russkyi_ Suomi_ Svenska_ Türkçe_
First few lines of all posts of last 24 hours | of past 30 days | of 2002 | of 2003 | of 2004 | of 2005 | of 2006 | of 2007 | of 2008 | of 2009 | of 2010 | of 2011 | of 2012 | of 2013 | of 2014 | of 2015 | of 2016 | of 2017 | of 2018 | of 2019 | of 2020 | of 2021 | of 2022 | of 2023

Syndication Of A-Infos - including RDF - How to Syndicate A-Infos
Subscribe to the a-infos newsgroups

(en) France, OCL CA #334 - Interview with bakery workers, part three (ca, de, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Tue, 28 Nov 2023 09:29:12 +0200


"It makes us laugh when people tell us about great French gastronomy" ---- We met M. and C., workers in an artisanal bakery. These meetings gave rise to three interviews on the bakery today, from the point of view of its workers. In the previous issue, M. addressed discrimination, baking struggles and alternative baking. Here, this time with C., the interview will be devoted to the training of bakers, unionism, hazing and undocumented immigrants. ---- How long have you worked in a bakery?

The first time I set foot in a bakery to work was in 2007, at the age of 18, for a free one-week internship, because the director of the CFA[Apprentice Training Center]where I I was considering enrolling for the next school year and advised me to do an internship to be sure of getting into this type of profession. I remember very well that the worker who supervised me during the internship was barely 2 years older than me, managed the morning production alone, and that the boss manned the baguette baking station in the afternoon. . This young worker gave me lots of advice on the attitude to have, what bosses don't like, how to always be active at every moment of the working day, how to always find something to do even if the we are not yet autonomous: "Never with your hands in your pockets", "Always be on time and even early", "When you don't know what to do, you ask for work and you can always scrape the mess without let us tell you." Another thing I remember from this internship with this young baker is that he had a rather nice car for his age and that when I spoke to him about starting an apprenticeship after 18, he told me that , according to him, I had wasted time. He must have started his apprenticeship at 15 or 16 years old.
Then I started a one-year apprenticeship contract, in September 2007, in a bakery in the 18th arrondissement of Paris that was part of a franchise network. I worked in this company and very occasionally in other companies in the network (which were also in the 18th) from 2007 to 2014, under different statuses.
In summary, in bakery: two one-year apprenticeship contracts, one-year permanent contract then resignation, resumption of studies in BTS in cereal processing while working on the black market on holidays and weekends, one-year apprenticeship contract in professional license in the cereal industry, one-year permanent contract then resignation (almost physically broken down).
Then I took a break of three and a half years as a pawn in National Education.

How long have you worked in a bakery?

The first time I set foot in a bakery to work was in 2007, at the age of 18, for a free one-week internship, because the director of the CFA[Apprentice Training Center]where I I was considering enrolling for the next school year and advised me to do an internship to be sure of getting into this type of profession. I remember very well that the worker who supervised me during the internship was barely 2 years older than me, managed the morning production alone, and that the boss manned the baguette baking station in the afternoon. . This young worker gave me lots of advice on the attitude to have, what bosses don't like, how to always be active at every moment of the working day, how to always find something to do even if the we are not yet autonomous: "Never with your hands in your pockets", "Always be on time and even early", "When you don't know what to do, you ask for work and you can always scrape the mess without let us tell you." Another thing I remember from this internship with this young baker is that he had a rather nice car for his age and that when I spoke to him about starting an apprenticeship after 18, he told me that , according to him, I had wasted time. He must have started his apprenticeship at 15 or 16 years old.
Then I started a one-year apprenticeship contract, in September 2007, in a bakery in the 18th arrondissement of Paris that was part of a franchise network. I worked in this company and very occasionally in other companies in the network (which were also in the 18th) from 2007 to 2014, under different statuses.
In summary, in bakery: two one-year apprenticeship contracts, one-year permanent contract then resignation, resumption of studies in BTS in cereal processing while working on the black market on holidays and weekends, one-year apprenticeship contract in professional license in the cereal industry, one-year permanent contract then resignation (almost physically broken down).
Then I took a break of three and a half years as a pawn in National Education.
And I took up a job as a baker in September 2017 in Auchan, then I resigned in June to hire in a self-managed SCOP in Montreuil, la Conquête du Pain[see CA 333]until May 2022. Since May 2022
, I am not looking for work and I am discreetly waiting for Pôle emploi to force me to do so. So in total I worked for about eleven years making bread, pastries and pastries and selling these goods.

How did the learning process go for you?

I completed three apprenticeship contracts with the same company. The first two followed one another, and aimed at preparing for the CAP and BEP Boulanger for the first, and the additional mention Bakery and the CAP Pastry Chef for the second. The third contract aimed at obtaining a professional license and was rather an arrangement with my boss which allowed him to have me hold independent positions at a lower cost and allowed me to earn more than elsewhere, while being free in the management of the project that I presented.
These details because, when we talk about apprenticeship, there are two aspects: on the one hand the employment status / the apprenticeship contract, and on the other hand the process of transmitting know-how. Only my first two contracts are representative of what learning in "bulpat" is.
The alternating schedule was two weeks at work and two weeks at school, with adjustments for the holiday periods in order to be at work longer in December/January, when production is maximum. The school was in Rouen and the company in Paris (1). This is an elitist training course recruiting at baccalaureate level, exempting apprentices from general CAP subjects, with compensation for more courses and strictly professional and technological practical work. One of the challenges of creating this training was the training of future owners of artisanal bakeries, but it ultimately also served to train executives of more concentrated structures (whether franchise networks or industrial companies in RetD or other ).
In the company, I was supervised by the head baker (also production manager, and who later became tenant manager). There were a maximum of four of us for the entire bread production: the chef (night and morning), a worker (afternoon), an apprentice (me, when I was not at school) and an intern (from Japan as part of "training" partnerships, there were periods without trainees). Basically, there were two employees really on the job all the time, the apprentice and the trainee were there to supplement the shortage of labor in relation to the quantities to be produced.
The chef worked from 2 to 14 hours and sometimes worked 6 days a week. I worked every weekend, including between two weeks of school, and my days off were returned to me during the week (when the store closed was Tuesdays and Wednesdays). I was on a 39 hour contract, I started at 6am and finished when the boss said so, usually around 2pm. The guiding principle of my training was to learn to manage and do everything alone, and to learn to supervise the trainees. No breaks, like the boss: managing to fit the entire workload in as little time as possible. Learn to manage the quantities to be produced yourself, while taking care of the sale. We had to consider the pay as a fixed price, that is to say that if we could leave early by having finished everything we did so, but if we exceeded the hours nothing was paid to us.

Looking back, what are your views on this period?

It was a period that I appreciated, but it nonetheless remained an apprenticeship in Stakhanovism and an instilled confusion between the interests of the workers and those of the bosses.
My chef (less than 30 years old at that time) had completed his apprenticeship in this same bakery and had spent his entire career there, becoming chef when the shop was bought by the franchise network. He told me a lot of things about his apprenticeship, the duration of the work, the schedules, etc., and clearly he was not reproducing everything he had undergone. I can say that he was more progressive than the oldest, that he was attached to the mastery and quality of his work, and that he was more in a meritocratic and competitive logic towards his colleagues: to get better salaries, you had to prove yourself compared to others. Concretely, in terms of cadences, this has the consequence that the "normal" cadence is that of the fastest (the leader) instead of being the average cadence.
At the end of my two years of apprenticeship, I was technically capable of holding all the positions in the bakery, of completely manning the pastry making station (the position I took) and of holding basic pastry positions. Technically, because physically no: the days were too long and I needed to do something other than work, eat, sleep. Basically, I was trained to be autonomous as quickly as possible, and I was paid on the apprenticeship scales, which in bakeries are the minimum legal scale.
I liked what I learned at school, and the control I was given in my work, I felt useful. I was still critical because I was raised in a rather Marxist left-wing family, but I resolved these embryonic criticisms with a sort of workerist ideology or the idea of the "established".

What is the profile of the students who enter a bakery apprenticeship?

I don't have the average profile, the school and the company I was in are minority structures with an elitist conception of the profession. The apprenticeship sector is still mainly reserved for young boys from disadvantaged backgrounds who are failing at school or deprived of schooling.
I would like to say that I do not have the typical background or the typical profile of workers in the sector due to the age I entered the profession and the opportunities I have had to work in other fields, and finally by the level of studies to which I had access. It is not the working conditions that I endured that differ, it is the material obligation to endure them.

Is there hazing?

I haven't experienced any, apart from a few jokes where they try to make you believe something or make you do something stupid (go get a scale to whip the egg whites, a croissant mold, or even pass via the fourth floor to get to the bakery in the basement). The pastry chef who was the oldest could have had more questionable practices, like pinching your inner thigh very hard, but I wouldn't say it was hazing since every time he made me I insulted him and sometimes threw a jet of water in his mouth. I also remember the egg fight with another apprentice. It was more childishness than oppression.
The real hazing was more about making me take over the position of the retired pastry chef when I was coming out of my apprenticeship. It was the non-replacement of a fellow pastry chef, which meant that we had to do the work of three at a time for months and during the holidays. It was that I believed that if I was exhausted after a year of working as a worker it was my fault....
I wouldn't know if there is systematic hazing, but there is a paternalistic relationship since the apprentices are very young and are trained by comrades who take on the role of big brother, daron, uncle. What is systematic and which allows anything to happen is the fact of being in premises that few people visit, potentially one-on-one with a boss, a boss, at specific times. different from the rest of society, and that the learning relationship is a relationship of obedience.
In my personal case, my head baker never made me do something that he didn't do himself, it was a principle for him. This was not the case in pastry: my fellow apprentice pastry chef complained that he was always given the same tasks, those that the others didn't do (like almond croissants, diving, breaking eggs).
In my school, there was a classmate in second year who had struggled as a girl and as an adult to find a boss (it costs them more than at 16). In the end, she was forced to agree to pay part of her salary to the boss. And the teachers knew it...

You joined a union, for what reasons?

I joined the union for the first time in 2012 with the CNT, more out of ideology than to be armed against exploitation. I didn't stay there long, because, on the one hand, the union I was in was interpro and small group, which brought me nothing in terms of concrete defense or building a balance of power at work, and that, on the other hand, self-managing unionism required working time when I was already overworked at work.
I re-unionized in 2021 with the CGT because I think there is work to be done within the CGT, and in particular at the FNAF[National Agri-food and Forestry Federation], which has the line of defending craftsmanship facing industry, and therefore cooperates more with artisan bosses than with industrial workers (see the positions on the UNESCO heritage rod). And also because I was in complete disagreement with the majority of the employees of the SCOP where I worked, and because I was suffocated in the affinity of self-management, which was unable to criticize anything other than the employed individuals. No work was done to understand and know the sector, the profession, its structures, its antagonisms..., and from there there was no desire to act on anything other than its small structure of exploitation. To put it another way, I needed to discuss class struggle because I was tired of arguing with comrades who claimed to work differently without having ever worked in the classic structures of the sector. Because the job of a baker's worker there was as difficult as elsewhere, less well paid and with less well maintained production tools. Basically, I joined a union to distance myself from the idealistic visions of the majority of my comrades, who affirmed that collectively operating a small capital at the end of the wheat-flour-bread chain was in itself revolutionary. What I couldn't hear.
Regarding the Bakery Federation, I haven't been able to meet them yet, even though I contacted them when I joined. It seems to me that it is a bureaucratic shell empty of workers. My organizational basis is rather the local union, especially since I am now unemployed. The UL receives employees from the bakery during office hours, and it is often simple stories of non-payment of salaries or violations of small bosses who think they have everything they can do. Most of the time, this is resolved on a case-by-case basis, with a little pressure. There is no real logic for unionizing these comrades who come to seek individual help.

For you, what are the obstacles to the development of worker and union struggles in bakeries and pastry shops?

It seems to me that artisanal baking suffers from the size of its structures, from turnover, from the social isolation of the profession, from the illusions of emancipation by opening one's box.
What I think is that the CGT is entirely capable of providing a legal service to isolated employees of bakeries and pastry shops, but that it is not seeking to develop a collective organization there. However, bakery workers have historically been part of the labor movement, and I would say that the moment when this unionism disappeared coincides with the period when the State and the employers invented the notion of craftsmanship, to defend the small capital of the industrial competition and concentration. From there, we developed the discourse on the quality of production, causing the social relation of production to disappear in favor of the relation of size of capital.

Are there many undocumented immigrants who work in bakeries?

I can't really answer the number question as there are no statistics, no official counts, and my personal experiences cannot be a sufficient basis for concluding. There are around 35,000 "boulpat" companies in France, and 120,000 workers.
The size and number of bakery structures lend themselves well to concealment and avoidance of controls. On Facebook recruitment groups, where offers and requests are published, there are workers from foreign countries, generally those from the former French colonial empire (2), who seek to be recruited in France. I see more and more announcements from bosses who want to specify in their requests for labor "with papers in order".
Personally, I have always worked with comrades of very diverse nationalities (Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Japan, Guinea, Mexico...) and I have never been aware of alias type situations.[an undocumented person who uses someone else's valid papers to work]. The companies where I worked did not practice undeclared work, or only marginally for overtime. This doesn't prove anything, however.
The training aspect must be taken into account. For example, Auchan requested the originals of diplomas during recruitment, and bakery worker jobs are qualified jobs where "autonomous" workers are recruited, that is to say capable of ensuring the production immediately. There is therefore the filter of learning, and it is rather situations of young unaccompanied minors that we observe. There is a collective "Patrons solidaires" (3) which was born from situations where young unaccompanied minors, apprentice bakers, were threatened with OQTF[Obligation to leave French territory]once they reached the age of majority, while their boss had need their trained workforce. There is this type of struggle on the papers, a paternalistic struggle of a small anti-racist employer and above all in need of manpower.
In bakery or pastry production, there is no "maneuver" position, a specialized worker position that does not require lengthy training. These are not positions where bosses recruit at will without paying too much attention to the profile of their comrades. On the other hand, there is this type of position for sale, preparing sandwiches. Unskilled production tasks are carried out by apprentices.

What are the prospects for the fight for immigration in baking?

I think that the fight for the right to freedom of movement lies in access to training in baking and the right to migrate easily for pastry making. I distinguish between bakery and pastry, because training in French artisanal baking is a sort of preserve on national territory, while pastry has international schools and training which do not "technically" justify blocking comrades who want to change country. For the bakery, what is blocking is the refusal to allow everyone to enter training schools. Young comrades who manage to come to France before their majority (and who can therefore enter an apprenticeship) do so by overcoming all the disgusting and inhumane barriers of Frontex (4). You then have to find a boss who signs the contract and work authorization paperwork. There, the obstacle could be racism or the so-called "administrative phobia" (rather employer laziness). But hey, when you haven't drowned in the Mediterranean, getting 40 rakes from the bosses before finding one "nice" enough to pay you EUR350 per month to sweat in a bakery and ruin your sleep patterns , it's not important. In the end, there are almost all the conditions met for the contradictions of this sector to evolve and oppose the lack of labor to nationalist racism provided that we build class solidarity in the face of corporatism and "the French tradition»!

Comments collected by zyg

P.-S.
An interview with two bakery workers was done by the show L'Actualité des Struggles, it completes this series of articles very well. It is available online here

http://oclibertaire.lautre.net/spip.php?article3984
_________________________________________
A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
By, For, and About Anarchists
Send news reports to A-infos-en mailing list
A-infos-en@ainfos.ca
Subscribe/Unsubscribe https://ainfos.ca/mailman/listinfo/a-infos-en
Archive: http://ainfos.ca/en
A-Infos Information Center