The labor unions have once again managed to irritate an entire spectrum of people, from workers to consumers, with their latest target : forcing the gorgeous and always-packed Sephora on the Champs-Elysées to close each night at 9pm, rather than midnight as it had been doing enjoyably for years.
The reason? Working "late" is bad for employees' health.
It's not as if working at Sephora is like mining (hazardous) or working a double shift at the cannery (tiresome). It's a department store, for goodness sake! The employees, many of whom are students, were thrilled to earn the extra 50% over their base salary as well as double vacation time. Sephora employees working this particular shift were not coerced; they had all specifically asked for these lucrative hours, and many had held this shift for years.
This anachronistic situation reminds me of another odd, labor union-related holdover that exists in France: the special compensation for SNCF (train) workers, called the "prime de charbon" literally a "coal bonus hazard pay" even though the trains haven't used coal since 1974. Still on the books, however, because once a union wins a benefit for a workers' group, it is impossible to rescind it. Look what happened when the government tried to update the retirement age--a legitimate crusade now that we all don't die at age 55. What do you mean I can't retire at 52? The French are still taking to the streets on that one.
This Sephora thing is but one example of the shortview here. 30% of under-25 year olds in France are unemployed and would be happy to find themselves filling in the extra-hours gap that nine to fivers don't want....if those extra hours were available. On the other hand, you have Eric Scherrer, the union leader who led the fight against Sephora's long day, saying how those poor workers will end up in the hospital and OMG....letting people work late might morph into something equally ghastly....shops opening on Sunday!!!!
Don't get me started on the 35-hour work week, legislated to provide more jobs. Right. We all know what happened with that: no new jobs were created. They just worked the existing workforce more to do in 35 hours what they had done in 37.5 hours/week previously.
And if you were a civil servant, that meant nothing changed. You just screwed off for 35 hours/week rather than 37.5.
There are plenty of businesses on the Champs-Elysées that work past midnight. The cinemas' last screenings are at 23h00; the Lido's final show begins then as well. Restaurants serve late into the evening, bars are open until 2am and the nightclubs don't get hopping until the wee hours of the morning. The Champs-Elysées is a beehive of beautiful people during these late hours, consumers willing and able to drop in and spend some money on perfume. Indeed, 20% of that store's revenue was made at night.
It's just crazy to target Sephora.
Maybe Scherrer has some kind of lipstick phobia. Because "protecting workers" just doesn't make sense here.