Apple workers in France go on strike on iPhone 15 launch day

Apple workers in France began a nationwide strike on the day the iPhone 15 was released to demand better pay and working conditions. The Apple French employees are demanding a 7% wage increase and an end to the hiring freeze in a protest designed to coincide with the launch of the iPhone 15.

The news of the strike marks another challenge for Apple in France just a week after France banned iPhone 12 sales due to radiation levels exceeding regulatory limits.  A French government watchdog agency ordered Apple to withdraw the iPhone 12 from the French market. However, Apple has contested the findings of the French regulatory authority.

Reuters reported that about 30 employees took to picketing outside the Apple store in Opera, located in central Paris, one of three such stores in the French capital. Their demonstration unfolded just a few meters away from a line of about 40 customers braving the rain to access the shop.

“We are still the people who make Apple’s wealth, and therefore I think that we deserve a little more honorable treatment than what we are given today,” said Anais Durel, a 36-year-old who has worked for Apple for 10 years.

According to a CGT union official, “a few hundred” of Apple France’s 2,300-strong retail staff participated in the strike. However, despite the reduced staffing levels, all Apple France stores remained open on Friday. Apple has declined to comment on the situation.

Apple’s various unions, including CGT, Unsa, CFDT, and Cidre-CFTC, which have planned a strike for Saturday, are united in their call for a 7% wage hike to offset inflation and an end to the ongoing hiring freeze. Union representatives have stated that Apple management has been reluctant to offer more than a 4.5% increase.

Tarek, a CGT union leader, emphasized the impact of inflation, stating, “Inflation is still quite nasty. There are a lot of employees who are experiencing difficulties.” He clarified that the goal of the strike is not to disrupt iPhone sales but rather to draw attention to their grievances.

“Inflation is still quite nasty. There are a lot of employees who are experiencing difficulties. The goal is not at all to block sales of the iPhone, the goal is really to bring awareness to this situation,” said Tarek, a CGT union leader who declined to give his last name.

Meanwhile, in solidarity with their French counterparts, staff at an Apple store in Barcelona, where around 250 customers were queuing to enter the store, also participated in the protest. Approximately 20 workers staged an information picket outside the store on Paseo de Gracia in central Barcelona.

Pablo Paredes, leader of the CNT Apple union, cited poor working conditions, including contracts that fail to compensate employees adequately for weekend and nighttime work, as the focal point of their protest.

CNT, although a minority union active in only one of Barcelona’s two Apple stores, has struggled to secure a meeting with the company to address their concerns. “We have been talking since August to our colleagues on strike in France. In Spain, unlike them, not all the unions have agreed to strike,” Paredes noted.

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