Amazon announced on Wednesday that its six completion centres in France would be temporarily shut down. The decision comes in response to a French court order that forces the e-commerce giant to limit its warehouse operations to critical products for protecting workers against COVID-19.
Amazon said “in spite of the huge investment we made in additional safety measures to keep our hard-working, dedicated colleagues safe, while ensuring they had continued employment at this difficult time,”
We remain perplexed by the court’s decision, which was made in spite of the overwhelming evidence we provided about the safety measures we have implemented, and have launched an appeal.”
On Tuesday, the Nanterre Court of Justice ordered Amazon to slash or pay regular fines of EUR 1 million ($1.1 million) outside Paris. The decision referred to a labour union lawsuit, alleging that Amazon conducted operations “as if nothing had happened.” The court ruled that routine operations could resume if Amazon introduced adequate safety measures for its workers.
In its announcement, Amazon said that it wanted to complete the closure of its fulfilment centres because the danger of unintended delivery of non-essential goods was too high.
“This week, we will ask our [fulfillment center] employees to stay home,” the statement said. “In the mean-time, we are working through what this court’s decision means for them and our French operation. While we will do our best to minimize the impact on French small businesses, those who depend on our FC network to deliver their products will be negatively impacted by this ruling. We will continue to serve French customers through our independent marketplace sellers and robust global fulfilment network.”
In the US, Amazon is growing its operations. It reported earlier in the week that it would hire an additional 75,000 employees to meet existing demand, besides the 100,000 workings in the past month.
Amazon offers regular updates on how it handles the pandemic, such as the introduction of improved cleaning and social prevention initiatives to protect its workers, the availability of personal protective equipment such as masking to staff and temperature regulation around its operations.
Some of these measures were only enforced after workers at Amazon Completion Centers began talking in protest against the company’s lack of security – and after workers got ill.