Striking Cartier workers protest at Paris store

Employees of the French luxury jeweller Cartier demonstrate to protest against low incomes in front of the main shop near Vendome place in Paris, on Oct 18, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
Employees of the French luxury jeweller Cartier demonstrate to protest against low incomes in front of the main shop near Vendome place in Paris, on Oct 18, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - Angry workers at French jewellery house Cartier protested outside its flagship Paris store on Friday to demand pay rises.

About 70 employees gathered outside the outlet in central Paris near the main opera house shouting "Workers badly paid!" The gem polishers, who bussed in from the eastern city of Reims where the Cartier workshop is located, said they would continue their protest until their demands are met.

"We will not give up, we might be losing some money, but they are losing millions," said one striker, adding that she earned only 1,300 euros (S$2,195) a month after 13 years at the famed jeweller and luxury watch maker.

The strikers, who launched their strike at the Reims workshop three days ago, are demanding a pay rise of 200 euros a month, but management has only offered a raise of 75 euros.

"We are paid the minimum wage while things for them are going very well.

Their last reported turnover was 12.7 billion euros," said Mr Flavien Lacrampe from the powerful CGT union.

Cartier, founded in 1847, is now owned by Swiss luxury goods holding company Richemont, founded by South African tycoon Johann Rupert.

In a statement, the firm said it was greatly disappointed that negotiations had failed and voiced its "incomprehension".