Yahoo engineers strike after closure of French R&D site results in 78 laid off

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[France] According to various reports in French media, Yahoo France engineers have gone on strike today to protest against the company’s recently announced plans of shutting down its R&D site in Echirolles, near Grenoble, and the layoffs that come with it.

The closure of the engineering site will result in the firing of 78 people, more than one-third of Yahoo France’s current employee workforce of 212 people. The shedding of the research and development centre is particularly painful when you consider the fact that it was opened to much fanfare only one year and a half ago.

When the opening ceremony of the new engineering site was held, an audience of French journalists, local dignitaries as well as newly hired and potential employees was told that the new research centre would aid Yahoo in lowering their global R&D costs, prove beneficial for the employment of technically schooled staff in the region and stimulate the concentration of technological innovation in the country.

That was then, and this is now.

Earlier this year, Yahoo had already trimmed down its workforce in France by laying off some 40 employees, many of whom are still searching for a new job according to French media.

When Yahoo announced it would be shutting down the R&D site, the company said it was looking to consolidate its research and development efforts into fewer locations that are more easily managed. The employees who went on strike today claim the American company is merely replacing those laid off by engineers in lower-cost regions.

As a reminder, Yahoo managed to triple net profits to $186 million last quarter. And its massively expensive “It’s Y!ou” campaign also runs on French television.

How do you say “Happy Holidays” in French?

(Image via Guardian)

  • FP

    “How do you say “Happy Holidays” in French?”

    Bonnes vacances

    • yeah

      uhm bonnes vacanes=have a good vacation.

  • Nicolas Magand

    Happy Holidays “Joyeuses fêtes”

    I guess it’s bad timing for Yahoo! but what did they do good this past year? They shut down everything and as Serguey Brin said, they are not wanting to compete anymore in the web search field.

  • Smith

    This should be no surprise to anyone who has done business in France.

    I spent 3 years there opening and running an IT startup, we were initially looking to open larger offices there and have non executive level staff, but the people are just too difficult to work with.

    People say the French are lazy, but that’s not true, they are just entitled. A lazy person is easy to work with if you can find a way to motivate them, but an entitled person is a lost cause.

    We moved our opperations out of France other than two French people to act as the “gerant,” a singular management person for the companies there.

    • Nicolas Magand

      I’m french and I tend to agree with you, especially for some generations. But I know a lot of hard-workers too.

      • Smith

        I agree totally, that’s why we wanted to hire a staff of about 30 people, including a large number of university students to work part time.

        This was in late 2005, we were looking for office space and then the CPE protests started . . .

      • Nicolas Magand

        bad luck / timing I guess hehe

    • JeanPhilippe

      “but the people are just too difficult to work with”

      This statement is clueless, in terms of productivity in cost labor in France is really good.

      It’s a foreign market use specialist to do the job next time.

      On a side note, I have worked in different countries and I have heard the same idiots remarks about offices in India or Spain or Germany, or Italy from people outside those countries or locations, it just shows how short sighted, and poorly educated the complainers are.

      • Smith

        I wasn’t talking about productivity, I was talking about all the bureaucratic bullshit we had to deal with, and the people we were dealing with thinking that they were doing us a favour by doing their job.

        It’s a shame too because I have many good friends in France and miss it, I would have loved to run opperations there.

      • skip

        JP is right, you are an idiot. You shouldn’t blame the French for your own mismanagement. Maybe if you understood the French culture better you would not be such a failure. You should review your little story from a different perspective, maybe you will learn something, because you look like quite the fool.

    • Mo Kilma

      The French do have the highest per hour productivity in the world. But as you said the French have a sense of entitlement and don’t work as many hours as other nations.

      • Greg

        Yes we do have the highest productivity and there is a simple reason to that. When our ex-government (idiot socialists) lowered the amount of worked hours from 39 to 35, people’s jobs were still the same, but they were asked to do deliver as much work in less hours… Therefore we became more productive. If tomorrow we lower the number of worked hours to 2 hours per week, there’s a good chance that our productivity will triple, if not more!!
        Im not saying that French are lazy, I think that historically the government has allowed laziness in public services companies.

        But things are changing in a good way in France, Public companies are becoming more and more private and mentalities are changing.

      • Tim

        There are some things that Americans need to understand about the French system.

        Yes, our taxes are very high but in return Health care is free (YES FREE).

        Yes, people go on strike for weird reasons in France, but there are historical and practical reasons to that.

        One reason is historical: our unions have made the choice of politicizing their cause, believing very early in marxism.

        The practical reason: marxism is the antithesis to captalism, therefore our unions never ever ran businesses, as opposed to American and English Unions. THEREFORE OUR UNIONS ARE POOR, and no money means NO REAL INFLUENCE.

        Your unions own and run businesses, have stocks in companies, and are sometimes even political parties (Labor & Tories in the UK were just unions in the begining) or linked very firmly to them (they fund them and vice versa).

        Therefore, our unions’ only power is to go on strike. It’s the only way they could ever weigh on any decision: going on strike, or threatening to do so.

      • Aksel

        It is indeed hard to recruit when you’re a start-up in France. But believe me, it is the same in the US and elsewhere in the world. The only big difference is that it is harder to fire a poorly productive worker in France than elsewhere. In most countries, workers are afraid of unemployment, so they will work a lot more but without pleasure and it you will feel it in the overall quality of the output. Make people understand the adventure and endorse it, and you will win, especially in Paris because it is the largest city of Europe, the average level of competence is extremely high, the job market is fluid and infrastructures are world class. It’s up to you to be good manager.

      • Paul

        Is that a joke? Everytime I have worked with English companies, it was almost impossible to get someone on the phone after 5 or 6pm…

  • Tim

    Wouldn’t that be “fewer” locations (not “less”)?

    • Robin Wauters

      correct, fixed, thanks.

      • netpaths

        What happened to your original title: Merde Alors

      • yeah


  • ken

    In protest to the protest, Yahoo should fire the remainder of the French staff.

    Seriously, what is up with the French? They strike if they don’t like the weather.

    • RiPPeR

      No, most of the french people don’t strike.

      It’s just the governement employees who strike many times a year to earn more money.

      99% of the french people never strike.

      • Nicolas Cerveaux

        I will add that 95% of French hate strike !
        Try to work in Paris when all the common transport is down because of a Strike.

        Except students or the people who are striking, everybody hate strike.

    • Slash

      French people are alway on strike
      English people have long teeth and big ears
      Swiss people are slow, rich and work for bank
      German eat sausages
      American are fat

      Please stop to be so caricatural !

      In France most of the people never strike.

      Yahoo fires 80 guys and everybody seems to think that’s normal….. The strike aims to say : Yahoo is not as wonderful as the ads say. Yahoo! agreed to get money from french government, and now Yahoo! is laying off people without giving us the little money they ask. Isn’t it a shame ?

  • Dave

    Unfortunate that Yahoo is getting rid of its best talent to become Sunnyvale centric.
    Choose to get rid of top international talent, in order to keep mediocre talent in Sunnyvale.
    Canada, France, South America, Latin American, Australia, Santa Monica.

    And the valuable talent at Sunnyvale is choosing to leave as they see all the writing on the wall. Same thing happened in 2002 – and the people making these decisions now, didn’t seem to do their homework, and are doomed to repeat the past.

    The amount of red tape at yahoo when I left was beyond belief, it’s not a surprise nothing is getting done, and they continue to fall further and further behind. I’ve mentioned this to Carol but have been ignored.

    I really do hope they right their ship. It would be sad to see them become obsolete.

    But just another case of an American company thinking it knows what cultures and languages of the world need.

  • boobdar

    Are those man-boobs?

  • Peter in Paris

    The French have somehow been conditioned to believe that companies only exist to employ people and that every job should be guaranteed for life.

    In any case, I would much rather be laid off in France than in the US! It’s part of the French dream. Get fired and get a big pay out from your boss.

    (P.S. This is NOT French bashing. I have lived here for 5 years and love this country. But it’s true that the way many French people approach work and business is a bit confusing at times, to say the least)

  • Io)

    Take the public money for investments, get benefits from it and then retire saying there’s no more. Typical American way of doing across Europe.
    Short-term investments in brains goes only one way : down.

  • exy!

    the tragic story here is this: With the lay-offs of Feb/08 and Mar/09, many yahoo! engineers around europe (as happened to the entire team of engineers at Yahoo! spain) were told that they had two options:
    a) be laid off
    b) move to grenoble and continue working from there.

    Now, those that chose to move to Grenoble, with all this means for them and their families, are being laid off – and having to pay for their move back to their country on their own (or, in some cases, they’ll have to spend whatever lay-off package they’ll get in the move).

    so, in short, not all Y! Grenoble employees are french – and I support them in their strike, although it will not solve anything

  • Jose

    French on strike?
    How strange

  • jojo

    I think Yahoo did these employees a favor. Now they don’t have to live in Yahoo purgatory. They should move on and create something new and kick the sh*t out of Yahoo.

    Really, who wants to work for a company that doesn’t value innovation and good technology anymore.

    I say REJOICE for you are FREE.

  • nick

    So what happens in France if you are on strike and someone pisses you off and you want to start another strike? Does government give you another guy to strike with you or how is this handled?

  • georges

    So us French guys are good enough to buy American goods like ipod, coca cola or ford cars.
    But we’re not good enough to work?

    Just look at our companies, EADS doing the airbus
    Areva with nuclear technology, Do you think this was built by lazy workers constantly on strike?

    Employees here are more stable, they want to work for the same company for at least 5 years.
    How much do you think it costs to startups to have employees leave them after just one year?
    I’ve worked for 22 years for American companies, and constantly see my US colleagues leave after just one year…

    I sometimes work up to midnight, and let me tell you, it’s very frustrating to call the US office where it’s 6PM, to find out that no one is still working there.

    I did find over the years that US managers have a tendency to misjudge French employees, but when they see us work hard, stay more than 5 years, and produce good results, they generally think they made a good move in hiring us.

    The US and English should also recognize that the French can more easily do business around Europe and the world than US and UK employees, simply because we don’t annoy others with the English language and culture.

    Anyway, thanks to America for paying my salary for the last 22 years, but I think I paid back more than honestly!

  • Claus Wahlers

    I see the situation in France similar to the German one: The German government peed on highly skilled professionals that wanted to make a difference, as a result those people left the country because they are actually welcome in other countries, and a few years later the government poops its pants because of the lack of highly skilled professionals in the country.

    I moved from Germany to Brazil 5 years ago because of exactly that. I own a small consulting shop here now, money (and taxes) flow, everything is rather uncomplicated and, most importantly, i feel welcome.

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  • Jumper

    Bravo to the French for striking this evil, despicable company Yahoo! Yahoo is a dying monstrosity, an anachronism that never should have been. What ever happened to that evil shitmonger Jerry Yang? Did he take all his purple robes and retire to his homeland, Taiwan? Look at the female turd he bequeated to Yahoo — Carol Bartz! Is that his way of gaining the ultimate revenge? Carol Bartz is the “female” Jerry Yang, a piece of work that everyone hates. but who shits on them before she fires them. Jerry Yang will be waiting for Carol Bartz in hell and Carol will surely enjoy being his bitch for eternity! Way to go, Carol fuckin’ Bartz!

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