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Amazon ordered to deliver only essential goods during pandemic in France

by: CNN Wire

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Amazon truck (Getty Images)

Amazon truck (Getty Images)

A French court has ordered Amazon to reduce its local delivery operations to cover only essential goods, warning on Tuesday that if the court’s ruling is not met within 24 hours, the company could face a penalty of 1 million euros ($1.1 million) for each day of delay.

In its ruling, Nanterre Court of Justice ordered Amazon to further regulate its activities within France to receiving, preparing and delivering only essential goods, such as food, hygiene and medical products.

The court has also required that the company carry out an assessment of the “occupational risks inherent in the Covid-19 epidemic” in all of its warehouses, according to a ruling seen by CNN.

“We disagree with today’s decision by the Nanterre Court of Justice and are currently assessing its implications for our French logistical sites,” Amazon’s spokeswoman, Céline Mandouze, said Tuesday, adding that the company is planning to appeal the court’s decision.

The ruling follows the filing of a complaint by the French workers’ union — Syndicale Solidaires — which has accused the online delivery giant of endangering the lives of workers amidst the coronavirus pandemic. In a statement to CNN, the union said Amazon had violated the withdrawal rights of employees, alleging that the company threatened to suspend employee salaries.

Reached for comment on the accusations, an Amazon spokesperson said, “Nothing is more important than the safety of our employees. Over the last four weeks in France we’ve deployed an additional 127,000 packs of wipes, more than 27,000 litres of hand sanitizing gel, as well as over 1.5 million masks to our sites. We have added temperature checks, social distancing measures and tripled the size of our janitorial teams with more than 200 additional areas for enhanced cleaning at every site.”

French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced on March 14 that all non-essential businesses in the country would close, including restaurants, cafes, cinemas and clubs. Markets, food shops, pharmacies, gas stations, banks, newspaper and tobacco stores were to remain open.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday said the emergency measures would remain in place until May 11.

Amazon employs workers around the world. In a blog post, the multinational company said that it had increased pay for hourly employees by $2/hour in the U.S., C$2/hour in Canada, and €2/hour in many EU countries; had doubled the regular hourly base pay for every overtime hour worked and was offering extra time off with full pay for those diagnosed with Covid-19.

In the US, Amazon faces pressure from lawmakers and workers to take more safety precautions and potentially close facilities hit by the virus, with cases reported at facilities in Washington, California and New York among others. Employees have staged walkouts to protest Amazon’s decision to keep warehouses open.

Earlier this month, Amazon said it would rapidly expand temperature checks for employees. But some Amazon employees and applicants previously told CNN Business they continue to be worried about crowded hiring events, limited access to disinfectant wipes and Amazon’s overall ability to follow through on its promises.

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