In trouble, the bakers left their stoves for a day to pound the Parisian pavement this Monday afternoon. Main reason for this unprecedented mobilization: the explosion of electricity bills. “Since December, our electricity bill has gone from 2,500 euros to 14,000 euros,” testifies Joëlle, 56, including 39 years of bakery. “We asked the bank for an overdraft authorization, without that, we cannot continue to work”, explains the one who employs 11 employees in a bakery in Avon, in Seine-et-Marne.
For the occasion, Joëlle dressed up as a sandwich woman with a sign asking “not to touch [sa] baguette “. Not far away, in the procession which, starting from the Place de la Nation, joined the Ministry of Economy and Finance in Bercy, we find Isabelle whose electricity bills have been multiplied by 7 in the space of two months. . “We can’t pay and we are threatened with cutting off the power,” she is alarmed. Owner of a bakery in Ollainville in Essonne, she worries: “if it closes, village life will take a hit”. And it is only thanks to the anxiolytics that Isabelle manages to hold on to this impossible situation.
In the procession, between the horns and the fog horns, we parade to the sound of “bakers, in danger” or even “Olivia, your calculations are not good”, in reference to Olivia Grégoire, Minister in charge of SMEs, Trade and Crafts. Moreover, the latest government announcements have not convinced since Isabelle still has the feeling of “not being heard” while Joëlle calls for the extension of the “tariff shield for all”.
Lottery and Breton flag
As in any self-respecting parade, there is obviously a Breton flag, waved this Monday by Alan who works in a bakery near Brest. He was sent with six colleagues by his boss to demonstrate in Paris. “Energy bills have been multiplied by 4-5,” he explains. We are forced to tap into the cash, to reduce the premiums. If the government does nothing, it will go up. Without bread there is nothing and the French Revolution started because there was no bread. »
Sébastien, a fifteen-year-old baker, also got up early to take the train to Paris from Vienne, where he runs his business. “I have fixed prices until the end of the year so for the moment I am rather spared but it’s the lottery, he says. And it’s scary for the future because with an energy bill multiplied by 4, the bakery would not last. »
A bill multiplied by 25!
This Monday, there were not only bakers to parade. So Ulrich is a restaurant owner in Essonne and he braved the cold to express his despair. “My electricity bill was multiplied by 25 in one month. I was at 700 euros in November and I went to 17,500 euros in December, he is alarmed. In January, I am at almost 16,000 euros when I closed for nine days! He opposed the levies but assures that with such costs – “about 40% of turnover” – he cannot “resume his activity”.
Arrived in front of the citadel of Bercy, defended by many police forces, the procession preferred to embark on a sit-in rather than an assault on the ministry. It remains to be seen whether the angry bakers will be heard, while the national bakery confederation did not wish to join the movement, reassured by latest announcements of the government. One of the demonstrators deplored their small number, a few thousand at most. But they will nevertheless be able to count on the indescribable Jean Lassalle, the champion of the terroirs, who came to pass a hatted head at the arrival of the event, attracting a swarm of groupies (we are hardly exaggerating), but less the journalists, who were nevertheless present in number. A sign that the fate of the baguette, recently listed as intangible cultural heritage by Unesco, has become a national issue.