October 19, 2021

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VIDEO. Facebook pages, online petitions, and even hunger strikes: “solidarity bosses” with their undocumented apprentices



“Sad end of the year for a bakery apprentice from Guinea, in Besançon: he is liable to expulsion from tomorrow.” The news announced to regional news at the end of 2020 was synonymous with disaster for Laye Fodé Traoré, but also for Stéphane Ravacley, his boss and apprentice master. So, when he learned that the one he had trained for a year and a half had to leave his company overnight, he did everything to denounce an economic aberration.

This Besançon baker is not a militant, and he would never have imagined finding himself at the head of such a fight one day. But from January 3, 2021, he began a hunger strike. Aware that he must publicize this case, he launched an online petition. It will collect more than 240,000 signatures. Among the personalities who relay it, Omar Sy, Marion Cotillard or Sandrine Kiberlain. After eleven days of hunger strike and impressive media coverage, the baker obtains the regularization of his apprentice.

On the Facebook page “Patrons solidaires”, daily testimonials

But Stéphane Ravacley does not want to stop there: he will continue the fight for the others. While on hunger strike, the Minister of Labor Elisabeth Borne, questioned on the situation of Laye Fode Traore, asserted that it was a “special case”: “(…) when we welcome unaccompanied minors who enroll in training, after two years, if everything has gone well, then they can continue to work in France”, she confirmed. However, at the same time, Stéphane Ravacley is contacted by many business leaders desperate at the prospect of losing their apprentices. He then created a Facebook page and an association: “Patrons solidaires”.

How many apprentice migrants, like Laye Fodé Traoré, are threatened with deportation when they turn 18? There are no statistics, but the testimonies and calls for help that Stéphane Ravacley receives are daily. As soon as he can, he takes an afternoon to meet the distressed bosses who have contacted him.

“We took building sites, the youngster, we were counting on him … And then overnight, we can no longer make him work. Economically, it’s a bit disastrous.”

The boss of a painting company

to “Special Envoy”

That day he went to a painting company. One of the apprentices must leave French territory. “I work like crazy and I have a job promise. I’ve been here for three years, I’m well integrated”, he explains to Stéphane Ravacley. For his part, the boss claims not to find young French people interested in his activity: 80% of his apprentices are foreign minors. Stéphane Ravacley will help him launch a petition to publicize his case.

Extract from “Small bosses with a big heart”, a report to see in “Special Envoy” on October 14, 2021.

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