• France's news in English
 

'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
Who is slaying France's rugby roosters?
Over 30 of the roosters have been killed in the last month. Photo: Jim Bahn/Flickr

Who is slaying France's rugby roosters?

A distraught farmer has been left scratching her head after over thirty of her famous roosters have been "murdered" in the last month. The farmers' 'coqs' are known for making appearances during French international rugby matches. READ  

Post Paris attacks: How the French are thinking
Gauging the mood of French public opinion in post-Paris attacks France. Photo: AFP

Post Paris attacks: How the French are thinking

A mammoth survey has been carried out to try and gauge the mood of the French nation in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. From the public's views towards Islam, Marine Le Pen and extremists the Le Monde/Europe1 poll sheds light on current opinion. READ  

IN PICTURES
Fancy a night hanging in an Alps cable car 'hotel'?
Fancy spending a night in a cable car above Courchevel? Photo: AirBnB.co.uk

Fancy a night hanging in an Alps cable car 'hotel'?

Ever dreamed of spending a night in a cable car high above a ski resort in the French Alps? No neither have we. But those thrill seekers out there who don't suffer from vertigo might want to read on. READ  

Studying in France: what you need to know
France is home to 300,000 foreign students. Photo: Simone Ramella/Flickr

Studying in France: what you need to know

France is one of the most popular study destinations in the world, with nearly 300,000 foreign students. Relatively low tuition fees and the chance to live in France are certainly appealing, but France’s confusing higher education system can be frustrating to navigate. READ  

France vs Denmark: How to deal with jihadists?
What's the best way to deal with returning jihadists? The French want repression, but the Danes go for rehabilitation. Photo: AFP

France vs Denmark: How to deal with jihadists?

While Denmark is to plough millions of euros into helping jihadists reintegrate into society, France is taking a tougher stance as the public calls for more repression in the light of the terror attacks. READ  

Studying in France
France urged to charge foreign students fees
Could non-EU students soon be forced to pay for a higher education in France? Photo: AFP

France urged to charge foreign students fees

Non-EU students should pay the full cost of tuition if they want to study in France, a new report recommends, a move that could earn France €850 million per year. READ  

VIDEO - #Stop Jihadism
France launches shock video to 'stop jihadists'
A screenshot from the "Stop Jihadism" video from the French government.

France launches shock video to 'stop jihadists'

The French government has released a shock video campaign in the hope of dissuading young French nationals from heading to the Middle East to fight with Islamic jihadists, by telling them "you'll find hell on earth and you'll die alone, far from home". READ  

What's on in France: Ten things to do in February
Tightrope walkers at the Nice Carnival in 2014. Photo: Nicolas Grevet/Flickr

What's on in France: Ten things to do in February

Despite the cold, there's simply too much going on in France to stay locked up inside. Here are ten events worth checking out - from France's biggest carnival to a major film festival and Chinese New Year celebrations. READ  

Pollution in Paris
Paris mayor vows to ban coaches and trucks
Pollution levels in Paris have been compared to being in a room with eight smokers. Photo: AFP

Paris mayor vows to ban coaches and trucks

The mayor of Paris has called for a total ban on the most polluting of coaches and trucks in the French capital from July 1st, as she announced her plan to crack down on the city's notoriously dirty air. READ  

It's another new record for France's jobless total
More bad news on the job front for France as the numbers out of work continue to creep ever higher. Photo: AFP

It's another new record for France's jobless total

There was more bad news on the job front for France on Tuesday as the latest official statistics showed that the jobless total continues to creep ever higher, setting new records in the process. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Studying in France: what you need to know
Culture
What's on in France: Ten things to do in February
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
National
The ways French motorists drive expats crazy
National
'French culture demands jihadists are punished not de-radicalised'
Culture
'Midriff the new cleavage' at Chanel's Paris show
Politics
'Syriza victory is good news for French people'
Society
France bars parents from naming baby 'Nutella'
National
France has no entrepreneurs!? What about fart pills for windy lovers?
Society
Nutella to Happy: The wacky French baby names banned by law
Culture
Men's Fashion Week in Paris in pictures - from penises to androgyny
Health
Could France be the next country to ban sunbeds?
Gallery
Ten French words you will never hear in France
National
Wrap up warm: Big freeze to hit northern France at the weekend
National
Muslims in France - 'They say we're not French'
National
Paris wants New York-inspired 'citizen cards'
Gallery
An architect has shown how he thinks Paris should look in 2050
Culture
Where are the real "no-go zones" in Paris? We've listed 10.
Society
Cheese diet helps oldest Frenchman live to 110
National
Charlie Hebdo chief stands firm over cartoons as global protests spread
National
'It feels like I'm in a warzone': Paris tourist
National
Are there really 'no-go zones' in Paris?
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
National
A futuristic vision of Paris revealed... and other news
National
What now for France post-terror attacks?
National
France to beef up its surveillance powers
National
Charlie Hebdo sells out within hours in France
Politics
Paris attacks: Knock-on effects in Sweden and across Europe
National
France moves to crack down on terror speech in aftermath of attacks
National
French Muslims react to Charlie Hebdo's Muhammad cover
National
'I only had a few seconds to hide from the Kouachis'
National
After three days of terror France feels like a nation
National
IN PICTURES: France's biggest street demos in recent history
National
And in other news in France ...
National
A defiant France rises up on solidarity like never before
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Paris marches for unity after terror attacks
National
OPINION: 'As bloody as it's been, France is not at war'
National
'It's a true nightmare': Parisians react to terror attacks
National
French to march in unity to help heal their wounded nation
National
Profile: the most wanted woman in France
National
Twitter disgust over 'I am Kouachi' hashtag
National
The incredible stories of how some survived the Paris gunmen
National
Al Qaeda threatens a shaken France with more terror
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

511
jobs available