Monday, July 16, 2012

French Apple Store: tensions, evaluations, negotiations and solution...

Following media coverage of the tensions within the French Apple Store and parallel to the annual wage negotiations, several meetings were held this week between the direction of France and Apple's retail employees and employee representatives. The opportunity to take stock and understand the aspirations of both the constraints of context other.

The start of summer means, Apple Retail, employee evaluation. Each employee must first complete a self-assessment and confers with managers or human resources. Overall performance and affinities result in assigning a score from 1 to 5:

    1: Employee consistently below expectations;
    2: used sometimes below expectations;
    3: strong employee - this is the score obtained by the majority;
    4: often used in above expectations;
    5: Employee consistently above expectations - this is a rare score.

This rating determines the level of increase, which is it calculated from a percentage of the profits of Apple Retail France. This is one problem: the tax schemes, traditional societies in subsidiaries, minimize the company's results. Level 1 employees receive no increase, last year; most employees have seen an increase of around 4%.

The rumor of an additional boost in the U.S. Apple Store set fire to the powder, while the situation in the French shops is not always easy. The stakes, however, not limited to wage demands: as in any kind of conflict, we must not forget the power stakes. The unions are still young at Apple Retail: their leapt may also serve as a demonstration to employees, but also the direction, that does not bother sometimes not often these representatives as it considers "unproductive ".

Three communication channels are in competition. That of the employees themselves, we have captured working broadly on the subject: those who speak out do so because they want to continue working in the Apple Store - but with better conditions. That unions and especially Cider (CFTC), representing employees as they represent themselves. That of management finally, which we do captions the echoes, and must strike a balance between healing and continued operations.

The annual increase is a good excuse, but the rest of the calendar year also explains the timing of the movement. Since last year took place in September the mandatory annual negotiations, great time meeting between management and unions - in 2011, the discussion focused on the holidays. This year, the unions want to impose a very specific agenda, articulated in many ways, and supposed to meet the expectations of employees. At some level of responsibility, we were told that management would prefer to proceed by roundtables with employees at the risk of bypassing unions "must normally happen. There are a lot of excitement and confusion. "In terms of employee representatives, it is feared precisely that the roundtables are scattered claims and the amount is less than the parts:" there is no union activity in August. Should be discussed in July, and reach a clear agenda: the employees are frustrated and take scoops will only postpone the problem. "

You can not miss the challenges of internal politics that are the backdrop for this movement. It is also impossible to miss the real problems that we have already stated, that this bug frame on the wall.

The claims

A paper published in the back-shops and we have provided lists nine points of contention. The first deals with the dysfunctions of the scoring system and schedule, resulting in problems of time sheets and thus pay. Human resources seem to recognize the problem and ask employees for several months to point mail, a solution considered "vulnerable" by the cider.

The heart of the problem is the pay scale. At the opening of the French Apple Store, Apple Retail did not hesitate to recruit technical profiles, by aligning with the previous compensation: it was not uncommon for a Genius and able to claim compensation from 35 to 40 € 000 gross per annum. While there are now about 12 times more demand than supply, Apple Retail has plenty of choice and the wage schedule is tighter. The figures that we have procured the end of 2011 (gross) show a standard grid for retail:

  •     a vendor receives € 27 000 per year;
  •     a creative or a Genius sees between € 32 000 per year;
  •     a "lead" creative or "lead" Genius sees € 50 000 per year;
  •     perceives an FRS € 28 000 per year;
  •     Finally, managers are paid at 60 000 € per year.

This grid is facing two problems. The first is the disparity in pay for equal job: negotiations to hire increase the levels of affinity and cause a strong enough variance. The second is the disparity in living standards across France: Montpellier while employees are very discreet on the subject, Parisians do not hesitate to give voice - some are content with their pay, others rely the day before the end of the month. The absence of social benefits and payroll problems only add to these two problems.

For a time it was considered asking two pay scales, one for Paris and for the Province, a hypothesis quickly dismissed: "It is simply impossible for a legal standpoint," summarizes a manager. Today unions offer significantly raise the level of base salary: € 24,000 yearly for specialists and FRS, € 31 000 for Genius and creative. They also demand more transparency on the device in the grid wage. At progress beyond this level of increase in the base, staff representatives also require a 20% increase in wages of employees with more than six months’. Finally, they request the establishment of a 13th month, which is a common practice after all, but completely ignored at Apple Retail.

The benefits are virtually nonexistent: to improve the lives of employees, Cider proposes the establishment of meal vouchers (up to 9 €, knowing that the average is € 6.87), as well as holiday vouchers.

Finally, some claims relate to working conditions: there are indiscriminately suffering from a lack of recognition, the need to regulate the function of pause time, and the introduction of fresh water fountains in the shop. The back all these claims should be the agenda of talks in September if unions retain control. The challenge of the summer will be that of communication between these parties: it is a lack of discussions the dysfunctions that have accumulated and the pressure eventually is too high. This controversy reminds internally anyway once again that behind the facade, Apple is a company like the others, with his leadership sometimes dull, sometimes challenging its unions, employees often tired, and its share of glitches. But many employees who testified also say give voice ... because they want to continue working at Apple.

So beyond the problems, the will of society is his most formidable asset, the guarantor even its cohesion.

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