The rise of Pakistani grocery stores places them in the spotlight

The rise of Pakistani grocery stores places them in the spotlight

The dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy defines badulaque as “shaving composed of several ingredients that were used in another time”, “chanfaina, stew of bofes or livianos” and “foolish, inconsistent person”. Authors such as Benito Pérez Galdós and Ramón María del Valle-Inclán made good use of the third acceptance, but it was Carlos Revilla , first director of the Spanish dubbing of The Simpsons , who popularized the term. It was fixed in the first meanings of the word to baptize like ” badulaque ” the grocery store of Apu, the Indian immigrant of the series.

For a while now, the Pakistani grocery stores , the badulaques, proliferate on any street in Barcelona and the metropolitan area. Its implementation has already exceeded many neighborhoods such as Raval, Vila de Gràcia or Sant Antoni. For most of Barcelona, ​​these establishments are all advantages , by proximity, by their non-stop schedules and because it is possible to find almost everything necessary at odd hours.

There are few who also wonder if these schedules are legal and if the stores conform to the regulations that regulate the rest of establishments. The Pakistani grocery stores are in the spotlight.

In the absence of official data, the latest estimates made by the economic observatory Eixos at the end of last year numbered more than 1,100 businesses of this type existing in the city. Like the rest of establishments, these stores are subject to periodic inspections of Labor, Social Security, Health, the Urban Police and the National Police. Almost no complaints against them, but even yes, as with the rest of the premises, the Inspection of Labor and Social Security visits them periodically.

It is difficult to prove if the working hours in these grocery stores are not met

It is difficult to prove if the working hours in these grocery stores are not met

There are suspicions, more than evident, that employees fail to comply with work schedules , but it is very difficult to prove it. This is explained by a person in charge of the National Police Corps. The Pakistani is a reserved collective, very closed and in which its members rarely, if ever, file a complaint against another compatriot.

Each time a labor inspector visits one of these grocery stores , accompanied by the National Police or the Urban Police, his workers are limited to ensuring that they comply with the schedule set by their work contract. And, in the absence of complaint and other elements that indicate that a serious situation occurs, it is unthinkable that an inspector is responsible for checking if that employee is at the front of the store the hours that your contract says or many more. What inspectors and police officers always notice is that the owner is never in the store. “Never”, reiterates the national police.

There are almost never owners of a single grocery store. The stores belong to a couple of partners that have their name, usually six or seven establishments. Only men work and they are all compatriots . Usually only the clerk who is in the cash register has a work contract and documentation in order, although there are always three people in the store.

The second man says he is a friend of the person in charge of the box and, when the inspectors ask him, he always replies that he is there ” lending a hand “. In addition, there is a third man at the door, next to the street. “We have never quite understood your mission, but the grocery store that does not have a Pakistani at the door has the trade completely open, without doors, and with the cash register located in a way that allows the employee to look towards the street”, Explain.

The ‘badulaques’ do not violate commercial hours


It is not true that these establishments fail to comply with commercial hours, says a person in charge of the Urban Police. But there is a feeling among some neighbors that this small place is always open, get off at the time you go down to the street, and that there is always the same person attending the box. The law of schedules allows greater flexibility from a few square meters and these stores have become strong precisely in the hours in which the increasingly less traditional trade or supermarkets close doors.

The premises of less than 150 m2 have open hours. This general ignorance provokes, explains a head of the Mossos, that some people distrust or distrust what happens in these stores. There are districts of the city with a large presence of these businesses in which several associations of merchants and neighbors show their misgivings every time the security desk is held. “That store has been investigated under the counter and is more in order than many of the shops apparently more legal than the Pakistani. Labels in Catalan as the norm marks and watches very much the sale of alcohol or tobacco to minors, or after hours, “says the police.

There is much mystery about how many of these grocery stores can survive. The police suspect, and some investigation has confirmed, that all workers arrive in Spain with job offers and that, once here, they pay their debt for the procedures working the first months in exchange for receiving only a survival wage. Another aspect common to all of them is that they are made with the disused premises with cash. “They do not ask for loans, they do not mortgage themselves, they never visit a bank. Like the Chinese community, they get the money through personal loans, “says the national police.

The presence of women is scarce. Not so long ago, nine out of ten Pakistanis registered in Barcelona were men. “For years, the first ones arrived in Ciutat Vella, but the truth is that it is very difficult to see them,” says one urbanist. The national police assure that lately a new tendency is detected: many Pakistanis create affective ties, even relatives, with Romanian women.