• France's news in English
 
Opinion - Opening hours
'This is not New York, this law is for France'
Worlds apart? Sephora in Paris forced to close at 9pm but in Times Square it is open until 1am. Photo: Left - AFP Right - Rob Young

'This is not New York, this law is for France'

Published: 25 Sep 2013 11:18 GMT+02:00

French working culture was once again at the centre of debate this week after trade unions won a court battle to force cosmetics maker Sephora to close its flagship Paris store on the Champs-Elysées by 9pm, stopping staff from working longer hours for extra pay.

Monday's ruling against Sephora follows a similar union-initiated move against Apple, earlier this year. 

Prior to Monday's ruling, 58 of the store's 200 employees would regularly volunteer for late-night work, and several of them were left fuming over the unions' initiative. "We have been stabbed by the unions," one said.

The story also sparked incredulity and anger online.

“This is idiotic. Do the police go home after their work shift is up, or do they finish what they are doing,” one reader of The Local commented. Another tweeted: “Those ****** are meant to support employees. WTF are they doing? Motto: Work less, earn less. Pay more taxes.”

But Eric Sherrer, from the Clic-P group of unions, which led the campaign to make Sephora and Apple close on time hit back at critics. Here he tells The Local why the ruling was right for France and that he doesn’t care if you can go shopping after midnight in New York.

Eric Sherrer: "The simple fact is that these shops broke the law by opening late. They did not respect French regulations. There would have been no problem at all if they had stuck to the rules.

“Many countries have laws that prevent children from working. We have this law because we think it is important. It is necessary for the good of humanity.

The law about opening late in France is there because we think it is necessary. It's not a case of having important rules and less important rules, a law is a law and it needs to be respected.

“I understand the frustration of certain workers, who volunteered for overtime. But we cannot make exceptions just because people are willing to work late. What will happen if we do? We will start making exceptions for everything.

“Sephora are a big chain. They could afford to defend themselves in court but why don’t we talk about all the stores that obey the laws.

'Laws are to protect workers'

“The most important thing to remember is that the laws are there to protect workers. If there are no laws to protect employees, or we allow companies to break them, then what? We will have shops opening until 11pm, midnight and soon 4am in the morning or even 24-hours a day.

“We do not need a change in the law to allow shops to open later. If a need arises, then the unions will sit down with the government and discuss the options. If it's needed and there’s an agreement, then we will modify the law.

“Sephora just wanted to stay open late for their image so they can say they welcome customers all hours of the day and to try to get ahead of their competitors.

“I don’t care if you can go to the Apple store or Sephora store in New York at any time of the night. If they respect the laws there, good for them, but this is France. Tourists don’t go to New York instead of Paris, just so they can shop at the Apple store after midnight.

“France is the first destination in the world for tourists and Paris is the most visited capital city in the world. If we were the least visited country then perhaps we would have a problem and have to look at this again, but we are not.

"I am not concerned with what happens in New York or any other country. All I am concerned about is what happens in France. I don’t tell them how to live and they should not tell us how to live.

“Things happen in other countries that I find shameful, but the people there might find normal. But if they're not angry about it then it’s not my problem. It is not up to them to say what the rules and laws are in France."

What do you make of Mr Sherrer's argument? Let us know in the comments section below.

Don't miss a story about France - join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
French bus driver faked assault in paid leave ploy
The town hall in Goussainville. Photo: P.Poschadel/Wikimedia

French bus driver faked assault in paid leave ploy

A 23-year-old bus driver in suburban Paris was handed a six month suspended prison sentence Friday for staging his own assault in a ploy to obtain paid sick leave. READ  

Trans French fishmonger nabbed in naked display
A French fishmonger (unrelated to the story). File photo: Pascal Pochard Casabianca/AFP

Trans French fishmonger nabbed in naked display

Unholy mackerel! A French fishmonger in women's lingerie has a lot of explaining to do after being arrested for exposing himself to holiday shoppers through his store window. READ  

EasyJet strike grounds France Xmas flights
Photo: Pascal Pavani/AFP

EasyJet strike grounds France Xmas flights

EasyJet flight attendants, angry over scheduling and pay, announced Friday a strike expected to force the low-cost carrier to cancel about half its flights in France the day after Christmas. READ  

French ex-airline boss: ‘Missing MH370 covered up’
Photo: Shutterstock

French ex-airline boss: ‘Missing MH370 covered up’

A former airline boss is making waves in France after he claimed that the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in March had been covered up, and that the aircraft was likely hijacked by a hacker and possibly shot down by the US. READ  

French mayor wins battle to keep nativity scene
The mayor of Beziers, supported by the French far-right National Front party (FN), Robert Menard, looks at a nativity scene displayed at the Beziers city hall. Photo: Pascal Guyot

French mayor wins battle to keep nativity scene

As the annual Christmas battle over nativity scenes rages in France, it was a victory for the traditionalists in southern Montpellier on Friday as a court refused to order the removal of a town hall creche. READ  

Santa bikers ride through Paris for orphans
Some 3,000 bikers rode through Paris to support orphaned children of firefighters. Photo of Santa biker: Shutterstock

Santa bikers ride through Paris for orphans

There was a whole lot of revving and red hats going on in central Paris on Thursday evening when some 3,000 bikers dressed up as Santa - or his little helpers – rode through the City of Lights for the 12th year in a row in support of the orphaned children of firefighters. READ  

China's Fosun ups bid for France's Club Med
The drawn-out take-over battle for the iconic holiday brand is already the longest recorded on the Paris stock market. Photo: Viaggio Routard/Flickr

China's Fosun ups bid for France's Club Med

Chinese conglomerate Fosun on Friday sweetened its offer for French holiday group Club Med, raising it by nearly €100 million, in a move to try to trump an Italian rival in what has been described as the longest bidding war in Parisian stock market history. READ  

The Local List
Top Ten: French Christmas traditions
In France people shop in traditional Christmas markets as much as in the deluxe stores. Photo: Dalbera/Flickr

Top Ten: French Christmas traditions

Every country does Christmas slightly differently, and the French - who, to their credit, rarely do things like the rest of the world - naturally have their own Christmas traditions, that they have just about held on to over the years. READ  

The top ten tackiest 'Made in France' gifts
You'll find plenty of tacky gifts in French souvenir shops. Photo: Eole Wind/Flickr

The top ten tackiest 'Made in France' gifts

Christmas shopping can be challenging when it comes to finding authentic ‘Made in France’ gifts and there is often a very thin line between tasteful and tacky. The Local has put together a (highly subjective) list of presents we think you shouldn't bring home. READ  

Far-right mayor barred over campaign finances
The court said Fabien Engelmann, mayor of Hayange in eastern France, would be banned for a year from the moment he has exhausted all his appeals. Photo: Frederick Florin/AFP

Far-right mayor barred over campaign finances

A French court on Friday barred a mayor from France's far-right National Front party from practicing politics for a year, citing a "particularly serious infringement" of the country's campaign financing rules. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Santa bikers ride through Paris for orphans
Culture
Top 10 tackiest 'Made in France' gifts
Gallery
10 traditions that make a French Christmas
Culture
GALLERY: The French language's fixation with 'les Anglais'
Society
So what does the web tell us about the French in the year 2014
Society
Have the French fallen out of love with Christmas?
National
Immigration in France: Hollande hits back at the scaremongers
Culture
What's on: 10 things to do in France before Christmas
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
National
Muslims rule France in 2022: The bad boy of French literature is back
Gallery
There are so many things that claim to be French but aren't. Here are 12.
National
Crazy cat stories: Moggie returns after 1,200km trek across France
National
Tea sets for boys? French feminists protest 'gendered' Christmas presents
National
Jacques Chirac's 'head' - The perfect place to hide 1.5 kilos of weed
Gallery
Myths debunked: 11 things you (wrongly) presumed about France
National
Prices are tumbling but the property ladder is increasingly out of reach for the French
Education
IN IMAGES: French universities 'in ruin'. The students have the evidence
National
Life's about to get a lot cheaper for Paris commuters. Or is it?
Gallery
Ten dos and don'ts for partying with the French this Christmas
National
Some famous French fine wines are under threat from high speed trains
National
VIDEO: Homeless bodybuilder turns the streets of Paris into his gym
Business & Money
Noble Prize for Economics: Six things to know about Jean Tirole
Culture
Nobel Literature Prize: Ten things to know about Patrick Modiano
Gallery
Looking for a good Christmas market in France? Here's our top 10
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The top 15 new inventions to come out of France
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Gallery
Miss France Farmer: The contest to find a 'real French beauty'
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Lyon's spectacular festival of lights dazzles once again
Gallery
IN IMAGES: Ten French Bond girls through the ages
National
Outrage forces French city to scrap yellow triangle ID cards for homeless
Gallery
Who does Christmas better - The French or Anglos? We decide.
National
All you need to know about the new French Bond girl Léa Seydoux
International
'My iPod's broken' - French jihadists moan about lack of home comforts
National
Race you to the top of the Eiffel Tower. No seriously, I'll race you.
National
And what if Mona Lisa was really a slave from China?
Opinion
Why company bosses in France have just about had enough
National
What impact did a 'giant butt plug' in Paris have on sales of sex toys?
Travel
National Geographic's top world destination for 2015 is in France.
Society
French babies switched at birth: Families seek €12 million damages
National
Why are so many French police officers taking their own lives?
Society
Immigration in France: Ten numbers that matter
Sponsored Article
Win a €250 voucher for your Christmas list
National
Sarko is back in the ring: Did he ever really leave it?
National
IN IMAGES: Yet more fatal floods hit the south of France
Gallery
Forget tourism and wine, here are 10 OTHER ways France leads the world
Sponsored Article
Live like a local - anywhere in the world
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se