Oct 1, 2012
The following article is from the September 28th issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers organization of that name active in France.
Apple has recently been in the news due to the release of its new iPhone. A strike called for the release date wasn’t a success, but it publicized the working conditions of the 2,500 workers at the 13 Apple stores in France.
If the working conditions at these stores are not as scandalous as those under which Apple’s contract workers suffer in China, they are still nowhere near Apple’s shiny image. Apple pretends to its employees that it is a company seeking to always be better. It says, “Our collaborators [workers] are an inestimable resource.”
Undoubtedly, this means “an inestimable source of profits,” for the wages are not at all fabulous like this multinational’s profits. They range from $1,600 a month for the average worker to $3,000 for the best paid. Apart from health insurance, the Apple workers get none of the ordinary benefits, such as various bonuses or discounts at nearby restaurants. A lot of the jobs are part time, lowering the pay still more.
Workers are pushed hard to keep their pay secret. There are differences between different workers’ pay, but they are hidden. Management gives some raises – secretly. But everyone’s pay depends on the sales per employee as well as the profits of all Apple Stores in France. This is the pretext the French Apple stores use for not hiring enough and for not replacing workers who leave. Meanwhile, there are more and more customers in the stores, leading to longer work days and reductions in breaktime.
The first strike call may not have been a success, but that doesn’t mean that there is no discontent. Some day Apple will have to postpone the debut of its new technological toys, since on that day its employees won’t be welcoming the customers but instead setting up a picket line.