report The Duralex factory, a famous glass factory in the town of La Chapelle-Saint-Mesmin, has been “put on hold” for five months due to high prices. energy
The Duralex plant is “put on hold” for five months. — Thibault Camus/AP/SIPA
- 20 Minutes went to the town of La Chapelle-Saint-Mesmim (Loiret ), where the Duralex factory is located, a flagship glass factory that has marked generations of French schoolchildren attending the canteen.
- Since November 1, the factory has been “put on hold” because of prices energy, become too high. It works in slow motion, just enough to keep the oven in service and deliveries.
- Short-time working has been introduced for the company's 250 employees, with the glassworks only expected to resume at full capacity in five months, on April 1, 2023.
De our envoy special to la Chapelle-Saint-Mesmin,
“If I were you, I wouldn’t be there, there will be no one there. who to talk to and nothing to talk about see,” Suleiman, employee of Duralex for fifteen years and delegate; CFDT, when we told him we intended to go for a walk on the side. of La Chapelle-Saint-Mesmin, in the suburbs of Orleans (Loiret). A symptomatic warning of the difficult context that the company is going through. It must be said that since November 1 and the standby of the furnace of the Duralex factory, the town has attracted media attention.
For all former schoolchildren in France, Duralex refers to; a madeleine of Proust : who has never played with his classmates at look at the number at the bottom of your glass to know your age, between two servings of fries and a battle of mashed potatoes?
At La Chapelle-Saint-Mesmin, Duralex is an institution. In normal times, the factory operates without interruption, 7 days a week and 365 days a year, its 250 employees all taking care of this tireless oven. The latter must never be stopped, because restarting it would be far too expensive: count 12 millions of euros, not to mention possible damages in case the engine is damaged. the glass would have cooled badly.
Here, we were shooting at 70 % on gas and 30 % on gas. electricity, two bills that have increased considerably; in recent months with inflation and the war in Ukraine. The ax finally fell: partial unemployment for everyone and “put on standby” from the factory to the from November 1st. Paused, because even with the prices reached, “it is more profitable to continue to grow. turn the oven on than to turn it off. To stop it is to see it die”, image François, employee from the factory came to visit us. “We never stopped. since 1945”, we pride ourselves in the ranks of employees. Against all odds, the fire continues to burn, but at the same time. a lower temperature, insufficient to create new glass.
Minimum service and only 30% of employees
Like a frying pan on a plate that would deteriorate if you didn’t put anything in it, the oven also needs material to avoid whims. At the Chapelle-Saint-Mesmim, crushed glass is constantly injected into it, which the furnace melts, it is cooled and reinjected into it. new. “At higher energy, we can create our own glass, contextualizes François. But ça would be too expensive. It’s this activity that we stopped. We just run the oven and feed it what it needs so that it doesn’t deteriorate.”
Many of the factory's machines are at work. stopping, because they consume too much energy. – JLD/20Minutes
Like its oven, the factory runs on minimum service. On this November morning, you can walk down many of the aisles of the company without meeting anyone. Fortunately, the oven likes to remember to us by its constant humming, filling the silence of the machines that are no longer running and of the employees who have remained at home. “We must be at 30 % of the workforce, probably less”, comments François. Just enough to monitor the oven, keep it running and prepare deliveries of stocks in advance.
The depression of ten solitaries
Once you get used to it, in the brouhaha of cooking, the silence becomes heavy again. Not really a ghost factory – we thought about ten people during our one-hour visit –, but far from having the pace of the supplier of all the schools of France in the past. When employees greet each other as they pass each other, they sometimes seem surprised to see each other.
The Duralex factory has been sounding a bit empty since November 1st. – JLD
Suliman now works about ten days a month, paid; 95% of the salary: “It’s sure that we’re not the most vulnerable. complain, he relativizes. What is happening at Duralex, it hits other factories in the country and ça will continue. We are lucky to have had help and to be well protected. And then, we are an iconic brand, the French will not forget us in a few months.” The State intervened, announcing aid of 15 million euros “to allow them to literally get through the winter,” of Industry, Roland Lescure. For the CEO of the glassworks, José-Luis Llacuna, this loan allows “to see the future with serenity” an increase in costs “from 7” 10 million euros” in 2022. “It’s definitely reassures us and that’s a positive sign,” said Suliman. Behind these arguments, the smile cracks: “When I go to work and see the parking lot so empty,çit always hurts my heart… We’re walking through the factory and there’s only ten people, it’s depressing.”
Confidence in a rosier future
Confidence in a bright tomorrow resists: the factory must restart at the end of the day. 100% by April 1st at the latest, and no unpleasant surprises or bad taste April Fools are expected. “Electricity rates have already been fixed and paid for, which should avoid the explosion of costs,” reassures François. From January, internal training and machine renovation work are organized, in order to bring more employees back into the factory. Severe; also, a positive signal for Suliman. The only concern, “a possible total gas cut off” in that case, I don't really know how it would be done.”
There is more balm in the heart and more people per square meter. in the local bar. Here, life goes on, far from soaring prices and employees who isolate themselves. The waiter assures us, “there is no difference traffic compared to 1st November”, and the number of greetings and private jokesat the counter gives the impression of a regulars bar. Suliman confirms it to us, it’s not there. that we will find a lot of employees: “ at home, we take care of the children’s outings, take them to sports, we enjoy ours.”
To each his own problems
If Duralex is the pride of the town, the latter still has 9,750 inhabitants who are not employees of the company, enough to maintain a normal existence. Still at the bar, we talk more about the future results of the Quinté; or ceiling leaking than from the factory. Everyone has their own problems after all, and everyone has their own bills. pay.
We find more empathy for the misfortunes of Duralex when we meet Sylvie, 67, nostalgic for the ballet of cars coming and going to the glass factory. “It’s nice to think that we don’t produce glass here anymore. But the factory has held up all these years and will hold up again.” The glass factory has experienced hardships, in particular a takeover in extremis in January 2021, after having been placed in receivership a few months earlier. Sylvie would have offered us; to finish our breakfast at her house with a coffee; and cookies, “but you know, the rising prices and my little retirement,” she whispers, embarrassed. At La Chapelle-Saint-Mesmin, it’s not so much that we have lost the sense of hospitality, just that times are difficult.