Despite its almost 11 percent unemployment rate and only freshly barely-there economic growth rate, Socialist President Francois Hollande insists that “growth is starting to take off again” and that “we are almost there” on efforts to tackle the problem of unemployment. …Er, if he says so, but besides perhaps taking it down a notch on the historically high tax burden, hem hem, French business leaders and economists consistently recommend one very important thing on which France needs to crack down if they’re ever going to really spur the economy forward: The country’s convoluted, rigid, anti-growth, and generally bass-ackwards labor laws.

For instance: This actually happened just this past weekend.

A Paris appeals court this week ordered the French cosmetics chain Sephora to close its flagship boutique on the iconic Champs Élysées boulevard at 9pm, angering salespeople who say they have freely accepted to work until midnight for years and now risk losing their jobs.

… Its designer perfumes, makeup and other cosmetics were, until this week, sold until midnight between Monday and Thursday, and as late as 1am on Friday and Saturday.

Citing labour laws that restrict night-time work, France’s largest unions collectively sued the shop. …

“I want to cry,” said Diane, another salesperson, standing outside the courtroom on Sunday. “I see all my co-workers who are going to lose their jobs and who have been ruined by this decision… they have taken away our right to work without even asking us.” …

Battling “graveyard shifts” has been one of the major causes adopted by French unions in recent years, and Sunday’s decision against Sephora was one in a chain of recent victories.

Message: Because they don’t want to work evenings, France’s unions don’t want any company that might be thinking about — ahem — “overexerting” itself, by their definition, to gain a competitive advantage no matter the potential for good business. Ergo, they’re going to relentlessly rent-seek and game the berserk out of the system to proactively prevent other stores from working at night. Unbelievable.