Amazon warehouse workers strike as staff COVID-19 cases rise

Amazon has confirmed the first COVID-19 infection in its US delivery network as its warehouse staff in France strike amid fears of contagion.

The retailer’s delivery station in Queens, New York, has been temporarily closed for a deep clean while its workers have been sent home with full pay after a member of staff was confirmed to have contracted the virus.

“We are supporting the individual who is now in quarantine,” Amazon said in a statement.

It added that since the start of the outbreak, it has “implemented proactive measures to protect employees including increased cleaning at all facilities, maintaining social distance, and adding distance between drivers and customers when making deliveries.”

READ MORE: Amazon bans all non-essential fulfillment in major blow to third-party sellers

Amazon has been forced to strike a balance between protecting its staff and meeting massively heightened demand for online orders, announcing last week that it was set to hire 100,000 new staff and offer workers a £2 hourly pay rise.

In Europe confirmed cases of coronavirus were reported at three Amazon warehouses, leading its main logistics hub in Italy to see absenteeism hit 30 per cent.

Meanwhile 250-300 workers at Amazon’s warehouse in Saran, France, held a strike outside the facility calling for its closure.

Unions argued that as Amazon was not essential to delivering groceries, sending relatively few compared to non-food items, it should consider shutting its warehouses to protect its thousands of staff.

According to French workers’ union CFDT 30-40 per cent of Amazon employees in France have now dropped out of work amid fears of contagion.

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