Paris Opera union rep racks up €52k phone bill planning strike

A union representative working at the Paris Opera House has racked up a €52,000 phone bill after using his cellphone while on holiday to organise a strike.

Paris Opera union rep racks up €52k phone bill planning strike
The Paris Opera House. Photo: Peter Rivera/WikiCommons
You've heard the one about the French union chief splashing out  €1,400 on a new loo seat?
And then the one about the head of France's National Audiovisual Institute spending €40,000 on taxi bills for her and son?
Now there's the story of the union rep from Paris Opera who built up a €52,000 phone bill organising a strike when he was on holiday.
Many have been stung by data roaming charges – but few can claim a bill as big as this. 
A Frenchman from the Paris Opera – a public establishment – saw a €52,000 bill after returning from his holiday in Spain this summer, reported Le Parisien newspaper
The Opera House released a statement saying that the phone company confirmed that the bill was a result of an “over consumption of data”.
The phone user said he had never been alerted to the fact that he was racking up thousands of euros worth of charges, and disputed that he had over-used the phone.
In fact, the holiday maker told the paper that he hadn't streamed any music, nor downloaded any films, but had just used the phone for sending messages, making calls, and updating the website of the FSU union, to spread the news of planned industrial action.
He added that just before he left on holiday, the union had launched plans to hold a strike, a message he said “had to be relayed”.
It remains unknown exactly what data was recorded as being used, but the Opera has launched an investigation to find if there is a way to get around paying the bill.
Stories like this will soon be a thing of the past, after members of the European Parliament voted on Tuesday to scrap EU roaming charges. However, the changes won't come into force until June 2017.
Unexpectedly large bills have made headlines in France as recently as in April this year, when Agnès Saal, the head of France's National Audiovisual Institute, resigned after she built up €40,000 worth of taxi bills in just ten months.
And Thierry Lepaon, the head of France’s most powerful union, the leftist CGT, was bogged down in November by a scandal over the €130,000 he spent to revamp his plush flat in the Paris suburb of Vincennes.
The renovation included a new €1,397 lavatory seat and a €700 loo roll holder and towel rack.

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