Amazon's French warehouses remain closed

Marco Green
May 5, 2020

France's labour ministry said Monday that it denied a request by Amazon for emergency funds to pay employees during the coronavirus crisis, after the U.S. giant shut its warehouses over a court order to sell only essential items. The company is only allowed to sell essential items online.

Bezos said that Amazon is spending "hundreds of millions of dollars" in testing employees for COVID-19, ensuring their protection and disinfection of the premises and additional labor costs.

In April, an appeals court upheld a ruling that drastically reduced Amazon's operations and called on its management to re-examine their safety measures.

But Amazon said it was impossible to comply with the order, and completely shut down the six sites from mid-April until May 5, though it maintained full pay for employees.

"The request... has been rejected because the closure of the sites is the effect of a court ruling and not of a drop in activity", the French labor ministry said on Monday.

"The recent decision by the Court of Versailles has obviously had an impact on our French operations".

Deliver anything else, and Amazon could face fines of up to 100,000 euros per delivery.

But the Amazon parent company said last week that although it was dealing with a sharp uptake in orders despite Covid-19 lockdowns, its profits dropped 29% in the first quarter of 2020 because, in part, of measures it implemented for "keeping employees safe".

Amazon said that some unions were seeking to exploit "complex" procedures with staff representatives, who have to be consulted and informed under French law.

The company said it would inform unions at a works council on Wednesday of its intent to keep warehouses shut up to and including May 8 as it seeks the best way to operate under the terms of the ruling.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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