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Paris Apple staff may strike for iPhone 5 launch

Video by Stephen Carroll

Latest update : 2012-09-21

A strike may be in the works at three Apple stores in Paris, to coincide with the Friday launch of the new iPhone 5. One Apple employee speaking to FRANCE 24 compared his job to “working in a coal mine.”

Apple Store workers in Paris are considering going on strike Friday in a dispute over pay and working conditions.

The industrial action in the French capital’s three Apple stores would coincide with the launch of the company's latest offering, the iPhone 5.

Workers there complain about the high-pressure working environment and low salaries.

“It’s like working in a coal mine,” one part-time worker, who asked not to be named, told FRANCE 24.

"Arriving on time is frowned upon"

Staff, he said, were monitored by CCTV “all the way to the toilet door”, were searched when leaving work and endured a work culture where “even arriving on time is frowned upon”.

“We are expected to arrive well before we are due to start. I put in at least 30 hours in a 25-hour week job contract,” he said, adding that workers were only allowed one break in the middle of their nine-hour shifts - which is almost unheard-of in France.

“Meanwhile, we are chronically understaffed and most of us are part-timers, which is astonishing considering the company’s staggering profits," he said. "Apple, frankly, could be doing much more to alleviate the pressure.”

Key demands by workers include a “13th month”, in which employees are given a double salary cheque, normally at the end of December, which is common practise in France.

Workers are also demanding subsidised meal vouchers - another norm in France - as part of their pay packet.

According to the French version of the Huffington Post, “last chance” negotiations between workers and managers at the end of Wednesday came to little.

The only concession was a promise to look into meal vouchers.

“It’s 90 percent certain that a strike will go ahead,” one staff member told the news site. “All the employees are disappointed with what Apple has offered.”

‘Job suicide’

Apple has some 1,000 employees in 12 stores dotted around France.

Sales representatives earn around 1,300 euros per month for a 25-hour working week contract, which staff in Paris say is totally insufficient for the French capital, where rent is much more expensive than elsewhere in the country.

Despite staff anger, the unnamed employee told FRANCE 24 that staff in Paris are nervous about the consequences of a strike. The employee said, “at Apple that’s job suicide.”

Another worker, who also asked not to be named or quoted directly, defended his employer. He argued that Apple - which has had stores in France for less than three years - is trying hard to adapt to French working culture.

Apple France had not responded to FRANCE 24’s request for comment at the time this article was published.

(FRANCE24)

Date created : 2012-09-20

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