Amazon asked to cease operations for 5 days in France

by Anmol
April 16, 2020

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Amazon has been ordered to shut down its services in France after the court deemed its coronavirus response inadequate. The company has been ordered to stop deliveries of all products outside of food, medicine, and hygienic categories because of poor hygiene and safety conditions.

The company has been facing a lot of backlash in the last couple of weeks as employees have been complaining about the lack of hygiene and safety conditions. French labour court asked Amazon to cease operations to ensure the company takes into account the employee safety during the pandemic. The court also asked the company to not cut salaries for the 5 day period and will be fining Amazon 1 million euros for each day it is not in compliance.

We have suspended activities in our distribution centers in France, despite the huge investment we have made to ensure and strengthen safety measures for our employees.

– Amazon (via The New York Times)

The company added that the fine was too steep of a to risk not complying. Amazon also lashed out at the unions for bringing the case to the court even though there was “evidence” that the company has taken the required steps to safeguard the employees. According to CNN, the court has asked Amazon to use the 5 day time to conduct a review of “occupational risks inherent in the COVID-19 epidemic” in its logistics chain.

The government is specifically paying attention to our citizens working during the current health emergency, and whether their employers put in place all sanitary measures—because it is their responsibility.

– Sibeth Ndiaye, spokesperson for the French government (via Bloomberg)

According to The New York Times, Laurent Degousée of French labour union SUD-Commerce was worried that over 10,000 workers might be at the risk of losing their jobs due to the ruling. He further added that 20% of the workers supported the decision and want better hygiene and working conditions.

We shouldn’t be risking the lives of workers for nonessential items that could wait a few weeks. We don’t understand consumers who say, ‘If I can’t buy something, I’m unhappy.’ They need to also understand the situation of workers in the warehouses… [Amazon] need to work on preventive measures, but their plans so far are mainly reactive.

– Laurent Degousée (via Gizmodo)

Amazon has seen massive employee strikes in the past few weeks and according to a leaked document, the company developed a plan to launch a smear campaign against an organiser, Chris Smalls. Smalls was later fired by the company for breaking social distancing guidelines. The company also fired tech workers Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa last week after they publicly criticised its climate and labour policies, while another worker laid off in Minnesota believes it was retaliation for attempting to organise.

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