French Apple Store employees appear to call off strike at the last minute, but angry protests mar iPhone 5 launch

After speculation that the iPhone 5 launch in Paris would be marred by a strike by Apple Store employees, Apple's French HQ instead saw healthy demand for the latest iPhone handset this morning. However, there were demonstrations outside the Store by a number of former Apple employees, shouting slogans in protest at their sackings in July.

Apple's French employees are represented by two unions, one of which had called for a strike on iPhone 5 launch day - an obvious target for industrial action. The union had demanded pay rises for Apple Store staff, but Apple refused on the basis that its French subdivision had actually made a loss last year.

The apparently fully staffed Paris Store suggests that the union's call to strike failed, but union spokesperson Thomas Bordage was defiant.

"The company has thrown an offer of luncheon vouchers at us as in an attempt to calm things down but we will go on demanding improved conditions for every Apple worker in France," he said.

Apple iPhone 5

Along with the pay rise, the union had demanded the payment of a 13th month of salary - a sort of bonus that is common in France but not a legal requirement - and a water fountain in the Apple Store.

Although it seems to have dodged the looming strike action, Apple's Paris Store was still targeted by angry protesters who were angry about their sackings in July. They shouted slogans including "Apple you have sent jobless people to the streets" and "It is us who established Apple in France."

India's Economic Times reports that the first Parisian to 'acheter une iPhone cinq' was a 19-year-old Italian DJ named Anthony Shahir. He had queued up since Wednesday morning - and in fact travelled from Rome for the launch - suggesting that demand for all things iPhone 5 is just as keen on the Continent as in Britain.

See also:

Apple iPhone 5: the reaction on Twitter and blogs

Huge queues for iPhone 5 at Covent Garden: pictures & interviews

Samsung knocks iPhone 5 in new print ad, Apple fans fight back