Amazon has been forced to close all its warehouses in France after a landmark court order demanded the retailer cease all non-essential deliveries.
The online retailer could now be fined up to €1 million for every day it does not comply with the court order, which was issued on Tuesday
The Tribunal of Commerce in Nanterre ruled on the side of workers union SUD-Solidaire which had filed a lawsuit against the retailer to force courts to intervene over its concerns for worker safety amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
A number of inspections found safety issues at five out of Amazon’s six warehouses in the country, including the inability of workers to abide by social distancing measures.
Following the court order, Amazon has now shut its warehouses in France until Monday while it scrambles to enforce the new measures.
“Our fulfilment centre operations are complex and varied, and with the punitive €1 million per incident fines imposed by the court, the risk was too high,” Amazon said.
“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.”
This is the first instance in which Amazon has been forced by courts to limit the sale of non-essential items, despite workers complaining of dangerous working conditions across the globe.
In the US Amazon has sacked a number of employees who were outspoken critics of measures being implemented to ensure the safety of its employees.
Amazon workers have tested positive for coronavirus—which may live for up to 24 hours on cardboard—at 50 warehouses.
In my view, failures by Amazon to keep workers safe are not only putting their employees at risk. They place the entire country at risk. https://t.co/rBsFOC9Hca
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) April 7, 2020
Protests across the US, Italy and Spain by workers concerned about safety have emerged in recent weeks, while many have said it is not possible to abide by social distancing rules within warehouses.
Amazon said: “Like all businesses grappling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we are working hard to keep employees safe while serving communities and the most vulnerable.
“We have taken extreme measures to keep people safe, tripling down on deep cleaning, procuring safety supplies that are available, changing processes to ensure those in our buildings are keeping safe distances”.