Amazon LogoSource: Andrew Martonik/Android Central

What you need to know

  • Amazon has been ordered to limit its shipping to essential items in France within the next 24 hours.
  • The company is to institute measures aimed at preserving employee safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • This restriction will last for 30 days, with a €1 million fine issued for violations.

Amazon France has been ordered to ship only essential products for the next month while the company sets up a risk evaluation system for employees in its warehouse and puts in measures designed to protect its workers. Amazon will also be required to negotiate said safety measures with worker representatives during this period.

The company was heavily criticized in a press release issued by Solidaires, a French group of trade unions as it filed a suit earlier this month:

While the Prime Minister last March ordered the closure of non-essential businesses due to the coronavirus epidemic and activities bringing together more than 100 people simultaneously, Amazon continues its activity as if nothing had happened despite the mobilization of staff and formal notices from unions, inspection, and occupational health but also criticism from the Ministers of Economy and Labor.

The result is a health and social bomb exploding all over France in a society with more than 10,000 direct workers, but also an army of temporary workers and delivery people who bring including the virus at home: after dozens of employees suffering from Covid-19 symptoms, proven cases have since been detected at several of the sites and the first employee is still in intensive care.

Amazon will now be limited to dispatching groceries, medical and hygiene products within 24 hours from the time of the ruling. The company will be fined a million euros for each violation of the order.

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Amazon issued the following statement to french publication L'Obs:

Nothing is more important than the safety of our employees. During the last four weeks, we have distributed on our sites more than 127,000 packets of disinfectant wipes, more than 27,000 liters of gel hydroalcoholic, as well as more than 1.5 million masks. We have also implemented temperature controls and social distancing measures and also tripled our maintenance teams in France to strengthen the cleaning of 200 additional areas on each site.

At a time when most people are housebound, Amazon's factory (and delivery) workers are a lifeline to many. Creating a safe and stable working environment for these workers is something that would benefit all parties involved. Amazon clearly disagrees that it needs to do more than it's already doing, but workers around the world seem to be sending the firm an even clearer message: "do better."

Reuters reported in March that workers "objected to potentially taking risks to help dispatch non-essential products." "It's impossible for the safety distances to be respected in the warehouses," a French worker said, "Our lockers are all stuck next to each other, when I come to get my belongings, we're all rubbing shoulders."

Amazon suspends warehouse shipments due to coronavirus — here's what it means for you

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