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France limits Apple’s working day, unlike US

In the US Apple might be free to cater to customers' needs 24-hours a day, but a French court has banned the computer giant from forcing French staff to work at night, after falling foul of a long-standing French restriction on working hours.

France limits Apple's working day, unlike US
File photo of Apple's flagship French store at Opéra, Paris. Photo: zoetnet/Flickr

Apple, which has seven stores in France, was told by the court in Paris this week that it could not have its employees working between the hours of 9pm and 6am.

Trade unions greeted the decision as a victory. Eric Scherrer from the CFTC (French confederation of Christian workers) told AFP: “This shows the desire of the courts to respect our traditions about night-time work.

"We just ask that the law be respected," said Thomas Bordage from the SUD union (United Democratic Unitarians).

As a deterrent, the court set a provisional fine of €50,000 for each recorded instance that staff at Apple Retail France are found working late. The computer giant was also ordered to pay six employee unions a total of €10,000 in damages and interest.

French law prohibits night-time working hours, unless it is "necessary to ensure continued economic activity or public services'.

Apple's flagship Parisian store, at Opéra, for example, is open from 9am to 8pm on Monday to Wednesday, and from 9am to 9pm between Thursday and Saturday. It is closed all day every Sunday. 

By comparison, the Apple store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan is open 24 hours per day, on every day of the year. 

Employee unions in France have in recent years intensified their legal efforts to protect the ban on nocturnal working hours, targeting major retail chains like Franprix, Bricorama and Monoprix in the courts.

According to Europe1 radio, Apple has decided not to appeal against the verdict.

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BUSINESS

French court hands Amazon €90,000-per-day fine over contracts

French authorities on Wednesday slapped a €90,000-per-day fine on e-commerce giant Amazon until it removes abusive clauses in its contracts with businesses using its platform to sell their goods.

French court hands Amazon €90,000-per-day fine over contracts

The anti-fraud Direction générale de la concurrence, de la consommation et de la répression des fraudes (DGCCRF) service said the online sales giant’s contracts with third-party sellers who use its Amazon.fr website contain “unbalanced” clauses.

“The company Amazon Services Europe did not comply completely with an injunction it was served and it is now subject to a fine of €90,000 per day of delay” in applying the changes, the DGCCRF said in a statement.

It also urged the platform to conform with European rules on equity and transparency for firms using online platforms.

Amazon said the order would harm consumers.

“The changes imposed by the DGCCRF will stop us from effectively protecting consumers and permit bad actors to set excessive prices or spam our clients with commercial offers,” the e-commerce giant said in a statement.

“We will comply with the DGCCRF’s decision but we absolutely do not understand it and we are challenging it in court,” responded the e-commerce giant in a statement.

Amazon said the clauses that the DGCCRF has ordered removed had, for example “prevented the appearance of exorbitant prices for mask and hydroalcoholic gel during the pandemic”.

In 2019, Amazon was fined €4 million for “manifestly unbalanced” contract clauses with third-party sellers on its site in a case brought by the DGCCRF.

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