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Internet campaign stops French hypermarket firing

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A deluge of emails, tweets and Facebook protests has forced French supermarket chain Cora to drop an attempt to fire a checkout operator for taking a coupon for a free sandwich left on her till by a customer. Her trade union accuses the company of victimising her for her union activities.

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The news that Cora was trying to sack Anne-Marie, from her 940-euros-a-month job at its hypermarket in Mondelange in the eastern Moselle region spread like wildfire on the internet on Wednesday.

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Thousands of web users called for a boycott of the company on Facebook, Twitter and in emails dubbing the procedure a “grotesque farce”.

By Wednesday evening the company had had enough.

Declaring itself “conscious of the emotion aroused by information made public this morning”, Cora announced on its Facebook page that it would no longer try to fire her.

Anne-Marie’s crime was to pick up a coupon for “two sandwiches for the price of one” that a customer had left at her till. At the end of her shift, her boss and a security guard told Anne-Marie that it was the property of her employer and that she was therefore a thief, she told French media.

Police were called and she was questioned for two hours before being reprimanded by the state prosecutor.

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The company then summoned her to a disciplinary tribunal on 7 November with a view to dismissing her.

Anne-Marie has been at the hypermarket for 10 years and represents the CGT trade union on the works committee.

The CGT accuses Cora of victimising her because the union has been running a campaign that alleges that the company has scrapped 42 full-time jobs and replaced them with 862 short-term contracts.

The area’s Socialist MP Aurélie Filipetti agrees. She accused the company of a “mascarade” that has failed to conceal its intention of getting rid of a trade unionist.

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