PARIS — Amazon’s French activities remain suspended following a ruling from an appeals court in Versailles on Friday in a case that has pitted the company against unions on the sticky issue of worker safety amid the coronavirus crisis, and prompted last week’s shutdown of delivery services throughout the country.
“We have taken note of the decision on our appeal and remain perplexed. We are in the process of evaluating the implications for our sites as well as for our workers and clients in France, and also for small businesses in France that depend on Amazon to develop their activities,” the company tweeted Friday.
Following a complaint filed by trade union Sud Solidaires related to worker safety, a French court last week ordered Amazon to limit deliveries to essential goods while conducting a security audit. Failure to comply within 24 hours would result in a fine of 1 million euros a day, according to the ruling from the court in Nanterre, on the outskirts of Paris.
Citing the risk of accidentally shipping nonessential items, the company responded by suspending operations and closing its six warehouses in the country while carrying out the safety audit.
The union had described the situation as a “sanitary and social bomb,” while Amazon has insisted it has taken measures to ensure the safety of its workers.
According to AFP, the Versailles court on Friday upheld the ruling issued in Nanterre, but loosened its conditions, extending the 24-hour deadline to 48 hours to conduct the audit. During the audit, the company would be allowed to distribute items like office supplies, high-tech items, computers, animal products, health and beauty products, nutrition, groceries, drinks and cleaning supplies — but beyond the 48-hour deadline, it would risk a 100,000 euro fine for any infraction.
Amazon said last month it had stopped taking orders for nonessential goods on its sites in France and Italy in an effort to reduce pressure on its logistics teams, after coming under fire from unions that accused it of failing to respect health and safety regulations in its distribution hubs.
According to Sud Solidaires, essential goods such as food, hygiene products and medications represent just 10 percent of Amazon’s business in France.