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      I’m surprised that these kind of labor conditions exist in France. The impression I had was that there are very strong labor protections there and harassing workers like that would get employers into a lot of trouble. It’s of course possible that this is related to the size and strength of individual labor unions, and this company/sector has a weak union.

      There are parts of this story that I believe - like the bloated software and complex build systems etc. but I suspect that everything is a tad exaggerated.

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        Not necessarily. I’m French but have worked just one year there as a software engineer there. My girlfriend at the time, same degree and experience as me, working in the same company was paid a few hundred euros less, simply because she’s a woman. The secretary, a low paid intern, was crying on a daily basis because of verbal abuse by the boss. I was not allowed to install Linux on my system (although the project I was working on required a Unix platform), because it would “break the warranty” (Dell machines with windows 2000 at the time). I could go on. A few years later I’m working in Canada and a colleague of mine, half French, decides to get her passport and go work in the south of France as a software developer for a year and a half. She spent almost a year of that in “arrêt de maladie” (sick leave) because of mental harrassment and burnout. She had no idea what she was getting into, but it did not surprised me at all when she told me how bad this experience was for her. It’s probably not always like that there, but this article brings me back some memories.