"We are informing our guests that the boxes will be closed at half-past twelve. We invite you to get closer to automatic checkouts and we wish you a pleasant Sunday. This announcement, made at the microphone, has a hard time being heard in the Giant Casino of Angers (Maine-et-Loire). The hostile slogans are already resonating. At 12:30, as cashiers appointed by the hypermarket sneak quietly to the exit, the tension rises.
Nearly 200 people-trade unionists, rare elected, yellow Vests – are gathered since mid-morning in front of the supermarket. They have already improvised a parade in the store. At the time of the usual closure, while whole trains of caddies are overthrown at the door, management is trying to be positive. "It's an additional service for the customer," says Casino Manager Luc Simon. It's like all new technologies, you have to get used to it. These explanations, the director delivers a little by crossing his fingers, before going "walk", as he assures.
Like all the employees of the large distribution, it has in fact prohibition to work, so to be there, after 13 hours on Sunday. His hypermarket, he puts it in the hands of two providers that provide guards and "facilitators" present to guide customers unaccustomed to automatic boxes. But this first Sunday afternoon opening quickly turned to chaos.
Clients arrested and whistled
A few dozen protesters enter the store and stand in front of them, then in the middle of the automatic cash registers. The first customers are arrested, whistled. The usual slogan "Even if Macron does not want us here we are" is sung at full lungs. "Excuse me, but I can not hear you," yells one of the facilitators trying to call a national hotline to unlock a cashier.
"Work, consume and shut your mouth," cries the opponents. A protester, yellow vest on the back and megaphone in hand, calls the few customers who dare to approach the boxes: "you have a responsibility, rest your articles, you are accomplices," she told them.
"It's not by shouting at us that it's going to make things happen," Yannick sighs. We came back late from the trip, we go back to work tomorrow morning, and we have to eat, "she explains, pointing out the whole galettes and stuffed zucchini in her basket.
Finally, in front of the hostile atmosphere, she gives up going out under whistles and prefers to leave without buying anything. Others stubborn, like Antoine and his father, Louis. Painfully, they scan an entire cart for the son who comes to study in Angers. But at automatic pay stations, you can not pass more than 15 items at a time. The time is long, the heckling huge, the father takes a pack of chewing gum in the head when leaving the store.
Abandoned fresh products
"The excessive consumption is unhealthy, explains Louis very calm, on the parking lot. But it is also consumption that finances national solidarity. "I am afraid that this opening of Sunday afternoon snowball," argues Julien, 32, employed in a large area on the outskirts of Angers. Unaccustomed to the demonstrations, he wanted to be there to defend his Sunday and his work. "You realize the social breakdown if they realize that supermarkets without cashiers, it works very well? He asks, worried.
During this time, the bronca continues to the crates. Some people fill baskets with fresh produce and then leave it in the store. The refrigerator that is supposed to protect the perishable products left at the crates is mysteriously disconnected. The police come to notice.
"I dissociate what is happening. I have thirty years of box, I do not want to lose my job, launches Salia Guechaichia, CGT delegate of the store. I am against aggression and degradation. We are not here to blame, but to raise awareness. In the megaphone, a protester makes a "first assessment", as he says. "We made them lose a crazy money," he says.