Paris cosmetics store forced to close early due to labor laws despite employees lining up to work

posted at 9:21 pm on September 24, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

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.


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Socialist President Francois Hollande insists that “growth is starting to take off again” and that “we are almost there”

-Obama.

Electrongod on September 24, 2013 at 9:28 PM

Ain’t socialism grand?

How long before people are lined up to buy a couple rolls of toilet paper?

simkeith on September 24, 2013 at 9:29 PM

Come soon to a country near you …

ShainS on September 24, 2013 at 9:36 PM

The economy is one thing, but take away their perfume and rouge? Now they’ve gone too far.

Fenris on September 24, 2013 at 9:40 PM

Good for the union, IMHO.

People need to start dealing with the consequences of their stupidity.

lorien1973 on September 24, 2013 at 9:56 PM

Sacra bleu !

Lucano on September 24, 2013 at 9:56 PM

Heh. They’ve actually found people to surrender for them.

trigon on September 24, 2013 at 9:59 PM

There is the old joke about the French planting tall trees.

docflash on September 24, 2013 at 10:03 PM

Sounds strangely familiar.

PattyJ on September 24, 2013 at 10:05 PM

No one is paying attention.

MikeinPRCA on September 24, 2013 at 10:06 PM

Ain’t socialism grand?

How long before people are lined up to buy a couple rolls of toilet paper?

simkeith on September 24, 2013 at 9:29 PM

The French?? Toilet paper? Never.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on September 24, 2013 at 10:08 PM

Socialist President Francois Hollande insists that “growth is starting to take off again” and that “we are almost there”

-Obama.

Electrongod on September 24, 2013 at 9:28 PM

…and the FIRST guy….is right!

KOOLAID2 on September 24, 2013 at 10:15 PM

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.

Atlas Shrugged.

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 24, 2013 at 10:22 PM

Late night on the Champs Élysées ain’t what it used to be, is it? BTW, do the street-walkers and out-call girls have unions?

ExpressoBold on September 24, 2013 at 10:26 PM

No one has even accused the French of high intelligence.

GarandFan on September 24, 2013 at 10:32 PM

Didn’t Hollande win in a landslide? This is what they voted for.
Let them … I was going to paint a word picture of a baguette and a sexual act but skip it.

vityas on September 24, 2013 at 10:36 PM

Progressivism is just so dreamy.

Murphy9 on September 24, 2013 at 10:42 PM

This isn’t a new thing in Europe. They had this crap in Germany when I lived in Düsseldorf in 1978. As an American, it seemed crazy to me that businesses were all limited to operating for the same (mandated) hours and were only allowed to stay open past Noon on the first Saturday of the month. If one needed something outside of the regular shop hours (say, in the wee small hour of 3:00 in the afternoon on a Saturday) the only places to get it were the main train station (Haupt Bahnhoff) or the airport.

The explanation for it was the same as this article, too. One of my German colleagues explained to me that it “wouldn’t be fair” if someone got ahead because they were willing to work longer hours or stayed open for more hours. Sheesh!

jix on September 24, 2013 at 10:52 PM

Good for the union, IMHO.

People need to start dealing with the consequences of their stupidity.

lorien1973 on September 24, 2013 at 9:56 PM

Maybe you misunderstood the article. The union sued Sephora to stop the store from being open at night, and won the lawsuit, meaning that the employees who have been working at night are going to lose their jobs.

J.S.K. on September 25, 2013 at 12:09 AM

Didn’t Hollande win in a landslide? This is what they voted for.

vityas on September 24, 2013 at 10:36 PM

The French presidential election was actually slightly closer than the U.S. presidential election last year. (Hollande 51.6% – Sarkozy 48.4%, Obama 51.1% – Romney 47.2%.)

J.S.K. on September 25, 2013 at 12:13 AM

The explanation for it was the same as this article, too. One of my German colleagues explained to me that it “wouldn’t be fair” if someone got ahead because they were willing to work longer hours or stayed open for more hours. Sheesh!

jix on September 24, 2013 at 10:52 PM

In America, they used to call mandated closing times “Blue Laws” (they were the natural consequence of a society that generally (or nominally in any case) observed a Sabbath rest on Sunday).
But some people didn’t want to be closed on Sunday just because everyone else was, and agitated to change the laws, because it wasn’t fair that they were not allowed work longer hours (or at least different ones) and get ahead, and the Progressives were fine with that because they were fighting Religious Conservative Oppression.

So now they want to re-institute secular, union-supported Blue Laws because it isn’t fair for other people to work longer hours and get ahead.

And that makes sense in what way?

AesopFan on September 25, 2013 at 1:11 AM

I live and work in Europe. I have colleagues in France, and they are nearly uniformly disgusted with Hollande. He was in office for less than 2 weeks before his popularity plummeted. He basically reneged on his promises, and his policies have made a bad situation in France worse.

You would be amazed at the work ethic and tenacity of the French. When they are led well, they work very intelligently and can do some amazing things. The real problem is that French culture creates a sort of caste system of elitist educated people and everyone else. As a result, French leaders tend to be arrogant and political. Weeding out these leaders is key to running a successful organization.

Bigurn on September 25, 2013 at 4:42 AM

Unbelievable, Erika? I saw precisely this in Detroit in the 60s as labor and regulations drove business out of Detroit and indeed out of Michigan to right to work states like West Virginia. I saw precisely this with out of control unions in Hollywood driving film production out of the country. There is nothing unbelievable about this at all.

{^_^}

herself on September 25, 2013 at 7:04 AM

Maybe you misunderstood the article. The union sued Sephora to stop the store from being open at night, and won the lawsuit, meaning that the employees who have been working at night are going to lose their jobs.

J.S.K. on September 25, 2013 at 12:09 AM

I’m pretty sure he understood the article completely:

The people who supported that government, and that union, deserve to lose their jobs; you break it-you bought it.

bigmacdaddy on September 25, 2013 at 7:10 AM

And I bet they aren’t allowed to pump their own gas, either!

Sherman1864 on September 25, 2013 at 8:30 AM

Next up: Those pesky hospitals that have doctors and nurses working all night!

taznar on September 25, 2013 at 8:53 AM

100 years from now people are going to ask why the entire western world went crazy.

jukin3 on September 25, 2013 at 10:32 AM

Ain’t socialism grand?

How long before people are lined up to buy a couple rolls of toilet paper?

simkeith on September 24, 2013 at 9:29 PM

Not in Venezuela. Socialism is so great there that they don’t even have toilet paper any more to line up for.

Wino on September 25, 2013 at 11:56 AM

I saw precisely this with out of control unions in Hollywood driving film production out of the country. There is nothing unbelievable about this at all.

{^_^}

herself on September 25, 2013 at 7:04 AM

As an Angeleno, I see this too.

PattyJ on September 25, 2013 at 2:48 PM