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VIDEO. Night work without additional pay: “Further investigation” in Ladurée’s back kitchen



They sell dreams, luxury, tradition. Ladurée achieved a turnover of 110 million euros in 2019, thanks to a small macaroon which represents 70% of its sales, and also thanks to high-end pastries. But in the back room where they are made, the methods of the family that owns the business are surprising. The patriarch, Francis Holder, the descendant of a line of bakers who made a fortune, passed on his precepts to his children: thoroughness, excellence … and savings on wages, according to former employees that “Complément d’Inquête” has met.

These precepts, David Holder, eldest son and CEO of Ladurée, applies them to the letter. To make the brand’s pastries, around fifteen employees work in a “production laboratory” located in the Paris region. Their work rate: 39 hours per week, from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. In return for this night work, one could imagine that these employees earn more.

“There, on the payslip, the salary is 1380 euros net. For what we do, the salary does not follow, not at all. It does not correspond to what we are doing, to what ‘we live.”

Eric, 28, former pastry chef at Ladurée

to “Further investigation”

But two former pastry chefs from Ladurée, who testify face-to-face in this excerpt from “Complément d’études”, describe an exhausting pace of work and an accumulating lack of sleep. Disturbed sleep, taking sleeping pills, extreme fatigue… all this for a salary barely higher than the minimum wage.

Why does night work not appear on the payslips?

Above all, their pay slips make no mention of these night hours. When they worked for Ladurée, they received neither bonus nor bonus. It was by examining these payslips that journalists discovered the trick. The employees are not attached to the collective agreement of pastry chefs, but to that of hotels, cafes and restaurants.

“It’s disgusting. We are underpaid; he is one of the French fortunes …”

Antoine, 31, former pastry chef at Ladurée

to “Further investigation”

This choice has a huge advantage for the employer: no increase is due for night hours. The pastry collective agreement provides for 50% for hours worked between midnight and 4 a.m. Ladurée pastries are sold in tearooms, which would allow the company to legally apply the cafes and restaurants convention… According to an accounting firm contacted by journalists, the shortfall for pastry chefs would be 550 euros net per month … or a third of the salary more.

Excerpt from “Paul and Ladurée: the secret story of billionaire bakers”, a document to see in “Complément d’inquête” on October 28, 2021.

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