French strike threatens to take shine off iPhone 5 launch (Update)

Sep 20, 2012 by Rory Mulholland
Customers are seen in the Hong Kong Apple store. The iPhone 5 will debut on September 21 in the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore, but a strike in French could dampen excitement.

The reviews are almost universally glowing and the queues are dutifully forming at Apple stores across the world, but in France the much-hyped release of the iPhone 5 could be stymied by strike action.

Unions have called for a work stoppage for Friday in the firm's 13 French stores on what was set to be the shops' busiest day of the year, with hordes of avid Apple fans keen to get their hands on the phone's latest incarnation.

The strike call came after negotiations between unions and management broke down late on Thursday afternoon.

Apple management has resisted pay rises by arguing that the French branch of the firm lost 10 million euros ($13 million) last year.

The strike was called by Sud, the smaller of two unions represented in the firm here, which said that management offered lunch vouchers but had not moved on demands for an improvement in monthly pay and the payment of a 13th month of salary, which is a common perk in France.

It was not immediately clear how many of the 1,500 French workers of the world's most valuable company would refuse to show up on Friday to deal with the frenzy that usually accompanies an iPhone release.

This year it is likely to be even more frenetic than usual, with some analysts predicting Apple could sell 10 million units across the world in the opening days and 50 million before the end of 2012.

Workers at the Apple store near the Paris Opera, where around 50 people were queuing outside Thursday to make sure they would be first through the door the next morning, insisted their shop would open.

"I will be here tomorrow at 8:00 am, strike or no strike," said one young assistant, who like most of the workers here was dressed in a blue sweatshirt.

He declined to give his name as store employees are forbidden to speak to the press by the firm, which expects fierce loyalty from its employees.

The store manager refused to even meet an AFP journalist, referring him to Apple's press centre. The press centre has declined all week to answer AFP's repeated requests for information about the union negotiations.

Several of the dozens of workers in the Opera store were wearing a green bracelet with the word "Believe" emblazoned on it.

"We wear it to show we support the demands being made by the unions," said one worker. "The managers haven't said anything about this to us. But I'm pretty sure that they are taking note of who is wearing it."

The customers queuing outside were also confident that they would not be greeted by shuttered windows and closed doors on Friday morning.

Sylvain Gautier, a 38-year-old Paris civil servant who admits to being an Apple addict, was number four in the queue after arriving at 6:00 am on Thursday.

"They're smart people. Even if they go on strike they will keep the store open," he said, adding that he saw the workers' demands as legitimate.

The man at the top of the queue, 19-year-old Italian Anthony Shahir, a DJ whose alias is Anthony Fitch, could not even imagine the idea that he would not get his hands on the coveted device on Friday.

"I came from Rome with the sole aim of queuing up here to be first. I always want to be first. I was the first to get the iPhone 4 when it was released in Rome in 2004," he said as he waited patiently in warm September sunshine.

Explore further: Why the Sony hack isn't big news in Japan

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

AT&T not selling iPhone 4 until June 29

Jun 23, 2010

(AP) -- Though Apple stores will be carrying the iPhone 4 this Thursday, you'll have to wait until next week if you want to buy it from its official U.S. wireless carrier, AT&T Inc.

iPhone 5 frenzy builds ahead of Friday release

Sep 20, 2012

Gadget lovers have flooded Apple with pre-orders and set up camp outside the company's real-world stores to get their hands on the new generation iPhone 5 set for release Friday.

Recommended for you

China's Xiaomi raises more than $1 bn in funding

4 hours ago

China's top smartphone seller Xiaomi Corp. is raising more than $1 billion in a fresh round of funding, a move which would raise its valuation above $45 billion, a report said Sunday.

Why the Sony hack isn't big news in Japan

Dec 20, 2014

Japan's biggest newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, featured a story about Sony Corp. on its website Friday. It wasn't about hacking. It was about the company's struggling tablet business.

Sony faces 4th ex-employee lawsuit over hack

Dec 20, 2014

A former director of technology for Sony Pictures Entertainment has sued the company over the data breach that resulted in the online posting of his private financial and personal information.

Sony tells AFP it still plans movie release

Dec 20, 2014

Sony Pictures boss Michael Lynton denied Friday the Hollywood studio has "caved" by canceling the release of "The Interview," and said it still hoped to release the controversial film.

2012 movie massacre hung over 'Interview' decision

Dec 19, 2014

When a group claiming credit for the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment threated violence against theaters showing "The Interview" earlier this week, the fate of the movie's big-screen life was all but ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.