No finish in sight but for Amazon shutdown in France

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PARIS (Reuters) – Amazon (AMZN.O) has no readability but on when its warehouses in France would possibly reopen, the pinnacle of its French enterprise stated on Thursday, after the e-commerce big clashed with unions over the measures taken to restrict the dangers of coronavirus contagion.

FILE PHOTO: Frederic Duval, director of Amazon France, poses a press go to on the Amazon fulfilment middle in Bretigny-sur-Orge close to Paris, France, October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photograph

Amazon closed six French warehouses used to inventory and package deal items for cargo on Thursday till at the very least April 20, in one of many largest fallouts but from a rising stand-off with its staff over security measures throughout the pandemic.

The world’s largest on-line retailer is going through mounting scrutiny on each side of the Atlantic because it juggles a surge in on-line orders throughout unprecedented lockdowns throughout the pandemic and workers’ security.

France is the one nation the place it has shut down all of its so-called success centres after unions complained that they had been nonetheless too crowded and filed a authorized problem.

A court docket sided with the employees on Tuesday, ordering Amazon to focus solely on delivering important gadgets like meals whereas it revised well being protocols.

Amazon’s French Chief Government Frederic Duval rejected the court docket’s order on Thursday, saying the corporate had spent “colossal quantities” on well being precautions together with sanitary gels and face masks. The agency will attraction, he stated.

Duval added that fairly than limiting its actions, Amazon had briefly suspended commerce by means of the warehouses as a result of the court docket order, which included a 1 million-euro ($1.1 million) per day penalty for non-compliance, was too obscure.

The court docket didn’t order the closure of the warehouses however requested they restrict deliveries to groceries, medical provides and hygiene merchandise.

“There’s a enormous ambiguity,” Duval instructed RTL radio. “Is a nail clipper a hygiene product? Is a condom a medical merchandise? I’m not in a position to outline that.”

He stated the corporate would work with unions to make sure the websites may reopen shortly, however added: “I can not verify at this stage on what date they’ll reopen.”

Amazon’s vp of the European Union phase, Roy Perticucci, has stepped down, the corporate confirmed on Wednesday, a day after the French court docket’s ruling.

The French shutdown may pile extra stress on small companies and third occasion distributors which use Amazon’s website and logistics to succeed in shoppers, and particularly so after France launched retailer closures in March to try to fight the pandemic.

The six warehouses make use of 10,000 everlasting and momentary workers. Amazon will faucet a state partial unemployment scheme to pay its workers, in response to an inner doc seen by Reuters.

“I hope, for the sake of Amazon workers and French shoppers, that enterprise can resume as quickly as attainable, however with safety protocols in place,” French Labour Minister Muriel Penicaud instructed LCI radio on Thursday.

Reporting by Sarah White, Marine Pennetier, Gwenaelle Barzic, Mathieu Rosemain; Modifying by Mathieu Rosemain and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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