“We just ask that Mamadou can continue to work peacefully in France”, a restaurant in Besançon is mobilizing for its employee threatened with expulsion

In Besançon in the Doubs, the Patrons Solidaires association was recently joined by the Antr’Act restaurant. Mamadou Saliou, who arrived from Guinea Conakry, still does not have a residence permit. He has been working in this establishment for more than two years.

The days pass. And the date of June 30 is in everyone’s mind. Mamadou, 18, is under an obligation to leave the territory (OQTF). The young Guinean arrived in France in March 2019, he was 15 years and 8 months old. Supported by child welfare, he did an internship in a restaurant in downtown Besançon. “He didn’t know what a pepper was, he didn’t speak French” says Romuald Garozzo, restaurant manager. The young migrant discovers the world of cooking, and the bosses trust him. They have to wait until Mamadou is 16 to be able to take him on as an apprentice. For months, they teach him the trade. Mamadou was hired on a permanent contract in September 2021 as a second cook. He speaks French today, he can read. He learned all this at his place of work.

“I have my job here. Now my life is here. I have no future in Guinea” explained the young man interviewed a few days ago on Brut.

Today, his bosses say they don’t want to create a buzz. Their online petition launched on June 2 has already collected more than 38,000 signatures at the time of writing. They are part of the Patron Solidaires association born from the fight of Stéphane Ravacley, a baker from Besançon. The latter had in January 2021 carried out a ten-day hunger strike for the regularization of his Guinean apprentice. A media fight that had finally paid off. “We are just asking that Mamadou be able to continue working in France in the restaurant business, we have projects with him” specifies Romain Garozzo.

We have a kid who is there every day, who works, who does not lose morale, for the moment.

Romuald Garozzo, restaurant manager

The boss points out that his employee contributes in France. He also points to the lack of manpower that has affected the catering sector in recent months. At Antr’Act, for example, a cook is still missing, the boss has returned to the stove so that the house can run 7 days a week.

“If people like Mamadou, exiles are treated like a file, and not like a man, we can’t actually get out of it” estimates Romain Donier, associate of the restaurant.

Mamadou’s case is in the hands of state services. New documents have been added to the file in recent days after a meeting with the Doubs Prefecture. The birth certificate of the young man will undoubtedly be a crucial document. For lack of formal authentication of this document, many Guinean migrants are refused a residence permit for this reason. According to Mamadou’s bosses, the prefecture has undertaken to respond quickly no later than the 28th. “We want to believe it” hopes Romuald Garozzo.

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