May 26, 2020
Amazon France workers will stay home until at least Wednesday

Amazon France workers will stay home until at least Wednesday


Amazon is temporarily halting warehouse operations in France, as it waits to appeal a court ruling.

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Amazon shuttered its French warehouses last week following a court ruling that it had to limit deliveries to products in the food, medicine and hygienic categories due to inadequate coronavirus protections at its warehouses. Workers have been asked to stay home until at least Wednesday, it said on Monday.

The e-commerce giant faced a fine of 1 million euros (around $1.1 million) per day if it failed to carry out the civil court order as previously reported by the New York Times. Its appeal will be heard on Tuesday, the company said in an emailed statement.

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“Following the judgement of a French court on Tuesday, we have to temporarily suspend operations in our Fulfilment Centres in France,” an Amazon spokesperson said in an emailed statement last week. “This is in spite of the huge investment we made in additional safety measures to keep our hard-working, dedicated colleagues safe, while ensuring they had continued employment at this difficult time.”

It criticized the unions that brought the court case, noting that “the decision will likely have consequences for many people in the country,” including employees, customers and small businesses that sell through Amazon. It deemed the “punitive” fine too high to ignore, and the warehouse workers will be asked to stay home during the closure.

Amazon France boss Frederic Duval told French news channel BFM TV that he hopes to “find a solution very quickly,” according to Reuters.

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SUD-Commerce, the main union behind the lawsuit, told the Times that workers will be paid during the closures, which are expected to last five days as Amazon improves warehouse safety measures.

“We will be very vigilant today … that the court decision will be followed by Amazon,” a union spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “We understand that people want to order goods in this difficult time of confinement, but in no way it should put in danger human health.”

Amazon in recent days fired three workers in the US who criticized warehouse conditions during the global pandemic.

The new strain of coronavirus, which can develop into a respiratory illness known as COVID-19, was discovered in Wuhan, China, in December and has spread worldwide in the months since. As of Monday morning, it has infected more than 2.4 million people and caused nearly 166,000 deaths globally.

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