French Baker Fined For Refusing To Work Less

cropped-liberty.jpgWe have previously discussed the continuing debate over France’s generous vacation and work regulations — and their impact on productivity.  Anyone who goes to France in the summer will find most stores shut at the peak of tourist season as the French take off for month long vacations.  One Frenchmen however wanted to work . . . and he now going to pay the price for productivity.  In Lusigny-sur-Barse, a baker has been ordered to pay a €3,000 fine for refusing to close his shop and work less.

The town of Lusigny-sur-Barse only has 2000 people in it and they appear happy with having a hard-working baker.  However, local employment laws require bakers’ shops to close once a week. The baker has obtained exceptions but last year they were denied.  He was told that he could not simply work as much as he wanted. This is France after all.

The retail union CLIC-P however supports the mandatory closure rules.  

As France grapples with its economic struggles, it might want to start with laws that punish those who want to work more.

61 thoughts on “French Baker Fined For Refusing To Work Less”

  1. The most mediocre bread in France is 1000 times better than the best bread in the US. It is reeeeaaaallly presumptuous of you all to assume you know what’s better for the French. Especially when it comes to food. LMAO!

    1. I sense a prejudice in your opinion. I have no objection to your believing that France has magic bread but I’ve had a lot of great bread right here in the USA. Since this article isn’t about the quality of bread but rather about freedom and work ethics, your comment is really a head scratcher. Do you REALLY believe that a government should have the power to tell a citizen to NOT work? Go home and think that one over.

      1. Robert, I am at home and do not need to think this over. I happen to agree with the union, which says that bakers should be forced to take a day a week off because they need to rest. There is only so much bread a town can eat in a week. Are all of the tourists in his town Americans who aren’t aware that they need to check out the opening times of the local shops? Europeans would expect shops to be closed 1 day a week. I don’t believe that he would make any more money in 7 days than he does now in 6 days a week.
        .

  2. This is the antithesis of freedom. Give the government total control, and you no longer have the power of self determination.

    Who controls your actions, the products of your hands? In France, it’s the government.

    Vote wisely…

  3. According to the article in yesterday’s TNYT this village has only the one bakery; he is open 7 days a week only in the tourist season; the villagers all support his doing so.

    Seems sensible to me. I would have appreciated an open bakery on Sundays when I stayed in rural France.

  4. Their culture, their laws. The baker can probably start a thriving black market for bread. =)

    I see nothing wrong with the restriction having grown up in Germany where the shops all closed at a set time and were never open on Sunday. Closed for 2 hours during lunch – shops and banks. One learns to do one’s business between these parameters. There is a lot to be said for family/free time.

    1. I went to the link and read the story, and apparently, this is a tourist area, and the baker only wants to stay open 7 days a week during ete. Which is French for “summer”, the season of eating. They had to restrict eating during the winter months, to preserve food and seed stocks, which is why we have Lent. To stretch out til spring, when stuff starts growing again.

      Sooo, that is a little more understandable, why he wants to work. To make hay while le soleil shines. He could open a second boulangerie, whatever that is, and if it had different hours, then he could get by with it. But I am not sure people who are used to bread and pastries would even eat boulangs, which I think is maybe like boudin, a kind of sausage. But boudin can be an acquired taste, because there is a lot of it in Louisiana. And, in the French Foreign Legion, where they apparently walk around with sausages on their backs. Which maybe came about to scare away the Riffs and stuff, because they don’t eat pork products. Anyway, the second shop angle sure seems worth a try.

      The other thing is, that it is not like he is the only employee in the shop. So I don’t know if his employees have to work 7 days a week or not.

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

    2. If only that free time were truly spent with family. . .kids. . .spouses. . .in devotion and service to God and prayer. Right. Don’t make me laugh. Sure, down time is great. Healthy. A necessity. . .but, you do comprehend, don’t you. . .that these laws are compulsory. This isn’t bestowing freedom. . .it’s the denial of freedom. The inability to choose to live one’s life as he or she wishes. How is that freedom? The birth rate in these countries is non-existant and the attendance in houses of worship has plummeted–surely, kids and houses of worship can’t be the reasons to support the compulsory closing of businesses, although, I do suspect that the additional free time provides easier access to those mistresses and others, located outside of the confines of marriage, who are lonely and in need of more attention.

  5. Chick Fil A–a restaurant chain found throughout the US–had a founder who, from what I have read, was, during the course of his life, a devout Christian. It was his decision–yes, HIS, SOLE decision–to keep his restaurants, across the country, closed on Sundays, out of respect for the Sabbath. As a tribute, to the Sabbath. An oddity, in this hustle and bustle world, where commerce stops for nothing, much less, the antiquated notion of, the Sabbath. A charming and touching measure, in a society which goes 24/7, without as much as a pause to remember or respect anything, much less, the Sabbath. Now, compare and contrast that with the story at hand. Note, no one compelled the chain’s owner to close his stores one day a week. No one dictated that said restaurants must remain dark on Sundays. This move, to close his stores on Sundays, was a personal show and display of devotion, by this one individual, to his religion and the principles, upon which he lived his life. It is touching in its sincerity. Purity. Integrity. In contrast, forcing or compelling individuals to shutter their businesses. . .forcing or compelling businesses to close. . .dictating how one can earn a living, via the threat of punishment . . .far from inspirational, touching or heartwarming.

  6. I’m quite surprised by most of the responses to this article. This is not a story about taking time to stop and smell the roses. This is not a piece about taking time, away from work, to, instead, spend with family. This is not an article about the rights and freedoms of workers; in actuality, it’s the antithesis of that. It’s about the state’s decision to deprive one of said rights and freedoms. . .about taking away–as opposed to giving–self determination–where the state has the taken the reins in determining how one must live his life, because, after all. . .the state, knows best. . .the unions, know best. Where the state controls how productive one will be. Where the state determines how much one can earn. Where the state–big brother–decides what is best for the dumb and stupid worker. Don’t get me wrong. . .those who WISH to refrain from working should be capable of doing so. They may choose to do so in order to spend time with the kids or attend a house of worship; however, no one should be compelled to refrain from work. No one should be punished to guarantee one’s failure to work. That should be a personal choice. And, as an aside. . .the whole argument about the compulsory day off, being an opportunity to spend with all of the kiddies. . .what kiddies? The French aren’t having kids. Read the stats, unless, of course, you are including the massive families, of those migrating to France, from third world countries, the truth of the matter is that the French are not having kids. And, that house of worship, that all of these workers are so anxious to attend on that very important day off? Yeah. Attendance at these houses of worship is also, practically, non-existant. . .except in the mosques, where one is lucky to garner a spot on the prayer rug. So, if this isn’t about being with those kids. . .or attending a house of worship. . .what is this about? Control. Manipulation. The desire to keep the French as the unproductive slugs that they have always been. . .where half of the day, in the middle of the afternoon, is spent on long, wine-drenched lunches and naps.

  7. Having lived in Southern France for many years in the 70s and early 80s, there was always an Italian, Corsican, or French holiday. The average worker got a month paid vacation, typically in August. However, that has changed to splitting it between August and Christmas for many. The work day used to be from 7 am to 5 pm with two hours off for lunch. Many take the option of a half hour for lunch and quitting early. The kids home from school, Dad from work, for a great meal and get together. The day seemed longer and less stressful. One looked forward to meals.

    The ‘natural’ events of life seemed to be more celebrated rather than the synthetic ones. On a per hour basis the French are more productive than Americans, Germans, Brits, etc. They just don’t work as many hours. The big question remains, does everybody have to work all the time for life in general to be sustainable. Consider the time and effort put in for all the distractions, most unnecessary. The consumer nation has to work to consume, to work, to consume. There is a basic dysfunction and disconnect in societies where work controls all the time. Japan is a perfect example. A society that was once built around the family unit now sees thriving businesses in renting out families to say good bye to the elderly when they take train trips; because their kids are too busy working and/or don’t care.

    You cannot intercept a child that is crazy and armed to the teeth if you don’t take the time to notice.

    1. Turley describes as, “generous”, whatever labor earns. He’s got nothing to say about labor receiving the lowest share of national income in U.S. recorded history…nothing to say when labor (Louisiana teacher) is arrested for exercising free speech…nothing to say about the Koch’s 5-year, self-described “success” in undermining the stability of the country. GDP growth averaged an anemic 2.2% over the period Charles Koch described as his “success”.

      Charles told donors to the Kochtopus, “We’ve made more progress in the last five years than I had in the previous 50…we can change the trajectory of this country” i.e. labor’s impoverishment, oligarchy rule, more incarcerations while the U.S. is already holds title to the world’s most imprisoned population, and stagnant economic growth (with the minimal gains going entirely to the richest 0.1%).

      1. The proponents of the right wing workaholic, law of the jungle, routine point out that moves like lowering taxes on the rich and upping spending increase the economic conditions for every American. After Reagan lowered taxes and increased spending there was the most severe recession since the Great Depression. It was followed by an increase in GNP and economic conditions improved. However, the economic conditions for the middle and lower classes actually diminished. It was the top few that profited. There were lots of jobs, at lower pay. Stuff was cheaper but America’s industrial base shrunk as the top few globalized to reap in their increasing wealth.

        There is an argument for ‘spreading’ the wealth. After all the few at the top would not be wealthy if it wasn’t for the many in the middle and at the bottom. It is the people, working and consuming, not the few at the top that make the world turn. We need a government of the people, for the people, and by the people; not this disgusting oligarchy.

        We have the quintessential oligarch in the Oval Office. The turnip lies without restraint. The dupes lap it up. We all suffer.

        1. The Koch’s plan is far more dangerous than Reagan’s. Reagan cut taxes while increasing deficit spending. The richest 0.1% threaten the revenue stream from Social Security, Medicare and public pensions, money that the middle class and poor earned and which fuels spending. The Koch’s tax reductions in states resulted in job and benefit cuts to public employment in national and state economies that weren’t producing enough jobs because they had been strangled by wealth concentration. The Koch’s “success” is nothing less than feudalism or colonialism.

    2. I’d like to see your evidence on that “the French are more productive” line. It sounds a lot like “French bread is 1000 times better”…..very thin!

  8. Keep in mind that here in the US, there were the “Blue Laws” which required most stores to be closed on Sundays. This persisted into the seventies, if I remember correctly. But more and more exceptions were carved out of the laws, and eventually everything was open all the time.

    It is still not clear to me that more stuff was sold in seven days as compared to six. But I do know that it was very refreshing to have one day with minimal traffic, and peace and quiet.

    1. Surprised by all the enthusiasm for state coercion here. In a free country, no one is bound by another person’s desire for “smelling the roses.” I grew up in a blue-law town, and remember everybody driving to the next town over to buy all the things they were forbidden to buy in their own town. After years of public irritation, the blue laws finally came tumbling down…

      1. I agree! What ever happened to respect for other people? Forcing them to conform to your own (irrationally romantic) notion of social propriety is undemocratic! Let’s not ride this slippery slope to Sharia, shall we?

  9. I’m happy that somewhere in this frenetic world they still know the regenerative value of downtime, and understand that there is more to life than chasing the almighty dollar. I remember the peace and quiet of Sundays when the rush of traffic stilled and you could hear the birds and laze around the yard playing with your parents because everyone was doing it because of the laws protecting Sunday as a day of rest. I also remember when 24 hour stores were nonexistent. We all somehow survived. But now so many employees have no choice but to work strange hours that destroy home life. And we wonder at the dissolution of our families and the high rates of depression. I, for one, am happy that they still have strong unions in France. Life is not just about making bread. It is about enjoying the roses, too. 🌹
    Bread and roses, my dear friends, 🍞 🥀 we can have societies that provide both.

    1. Well, we can’t be sure you’re actually have either bread or roses, but we can supply plenty of state coercion to ensure you don’t take steps to bake or grow any yourself. Because isn’t that what’s really important?

      1. Some beat their employees- Turley blog post about the Saudi princess.
        When labor has no clout to influence legislation and the colonialists rule (ALEC) then, no abuse can be prevented.

        1. You don’t find it abusive to demand, under the threat of punishment, that an individual–of sound mind and body–cannot keep his own, personal business establishment operational on certain days during the week? That is what one should classify as, abuse. The state dictating how many hours the owner, of an establishment, may choose to work. May need to work. To support his family. Take care of his family. The punishment for failing to abide by overreaching laws and regulations. Yes. That is what constitures abuse. The power to demand that the free will, of the owner of an establishment, can’t work as hard and as long as he, personally, wishes. The very definition of abuse of power.

          Now, back to your incessant rants about colonialism and the Koch brothers, because every thread is, somehow, related to those. . .

              1. How many amicus briefs did Alinsky file in the SCOTUS Janus case?
                17 of the 19 briefs in the case were filed by the groups funded by the Koch network or Bradley Foundation.

                1. Linda – even a twit like you should know that Alinsky has been dead since 1972. Or at a minimum, you should know he was dead. That is a silly argument or question. Read Weart.

    2. Stop please! Your misty romanticism is making me ill! If you want your “regenerative downtime,” then, by all means, take it! Start by giving your neighbors some downtime from your lofty pontificating!

    3. Yeah. Let’s make a LAW about working too much! While we’re at it, let’s make someone we don’t like sit in the back of the bus.

  10. OK, sooo I support the French on this. Because it is just like making stores close on Sunday so that families can have time together. If this guy works all the time, then other bakers will have to keep up, and pretty soon all you have are stressed out bakers.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

      1. David Benson – have you never lived in a community that shut down on Sunday? I did. Except for some restaurants and gas stations, nothing was open on Sunday, except churches and bars. Nothing fresh was being baked.

      1. Sure. Because it one of the few times that she is actually wrong. Sorry, Squeeky. . .you are just off the mark on this one.

  11. This reminds of the Medieval Guild system where the guild controlled the entire system within a city or town and fined members who didn’t follow the guild rules. Folks, the Middle Ages are back!!!

    1. Doubtmeister – this is not true. The French lost a lot of men defending the British as they got off the beach at Dunkirk. They also made two unsuccessful tank attacks against the Panzers, which exposed the undefended flanks of the German Panzer Korps. This is one of the reasons the German General Staff stopped the Panzers before Dunkirk and gave them enough time to escape. The Germans needed to repair their tanks and wanted their infantry to catch up. Charles DeGaulle led one of the tank attacks.

      1. I read somewhere that the French leader at the time refused to let the RAF have fields in France, which means they had less time over the battlefield.

        Frankly ( 🙂 ), there is little reason why the British and French should not have kicked the Kraut’s butts at that time. but the French were not cowards, and never were until the Muslim Invasion. Even though we like to tease them about it.

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

          1. David Benson – it was that superior tank organization that allowed the Germans to beat off superior French tanks. However, it did get the Germans to halt before closing in on Dunkirk, to repair their tanks and let the infantry catch up. They could see their flank was exposed and their supply line was long and unprotected.

        1. The German assault on France came after months of the “phoney war” or “sitzkrieg, with no action on the western front. The British had the use of airfields in France, but the French forbade any airplane attacks on Germany, for fear of retribution. In at least one case, the local population drove their vehicles onto the landing strips, so as to prevent the planes from taking off.

      2. As with most things there is more than one reason. Primarily, the French Marshal Gamelin and Petain, along with the rest of the holdovers from WW 1 refused to believe that the Germans could attack through the Ardennes. They did and ‘pincered’ the British and French forces that were going into Belgium to meet the German advance there. Also, the Germans used their tanks and mobility to thrust through the enemy lines and divide their forces. The French had superior tanks but used them primarily for infantry support, as in WW 1. Add a well orchestrated attack, the destruction of the French Air Force on the ground, and dysfunctional command and the largest land army at the time, the French Army, was defeated due to incompetence at the top. Kind of like Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld in Afghanistan and Iraq.

        1. issac – there were two units of French tanks not assigned to the infantry, De Gaulle commanded one of them. The Maginot Line was going to be extended across the Ardennes, but they had not started yet.

          And the French are not the only ones who got surprised by tanks in the Ardennes. The Americans got a hell of a shock in late December 1944.

    2. The rush-to-surrender was mostly at the top, and for various reasons. Some of the leaders wanted to avoid the bloodshed of WWI. Others were very religious and felt the defeat was God’s retribution for France’s descent into a decadent lifestyle. Others were in shock that their view of tactics was so antiquated, compared to that of the Germans. Some wanted to do anything that would avoid damage to their beloved Paris. Some (like Laval) were eager to partner with Germany. Unlike Britain, French leadership was fragmented and irresolute.

      But in many cases, individual units and soldiers fought quite well.

  12. How sad, it has come to this! The state seems to have nationalized the citizenry, this is the height of degeneracy. All of a sudden I don’t feel sorry for them for being inundated by the North African Muslims, I am sure they will give then the necessary jolt to get out of this stupid syndrome to have become so apathetic.

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