updated 04:12 pm EDT, Thu September 20, 2012
Protest coincides with iPhone 5 launch
A sizable number of French Apple Store workers have voted to go on strike Friday to support the demands of their union, the SUD, Reuters reports. The SUD represents about a quarter of Apple Store employees in the country, and is asking that they get water fountains, meal vouchers, and a thirteenth month of salary standard amongst French businesses. The head of the union, Thomas Bordage, has called on workers to demonstrate in front of the Opera Apple Store at 8AM tomorrow.
The timing could deal a special blow to Apple, since the iPhone 5 launches in several countries on Friday, including France. The company normally needs extra staff to handle demand during iPhone and iPad launches; tomorrow Apple will instead have to depend on a smaller workforce belonging to other unions not participating in the strike.
France is unique in having a strong union presence at Apple retail. There are essentially no formal unions at American Apple Stores, or in most other countries around the world. This is in spite of significant complaints about working conditions, such as cutbacks in part-time hours and overly demanding performance metrics.
France has 12 Apple Stores, most of which are based in the Paris area, such as the Opera outlet. The local chain employs roughly 1,000 people.