Amazon Gradually Reopens French Warehouses After Labor Dispute

  • VOA News

    May 20, 2020 08:23

    Online retail giant Amazon was resuming operations Tuesday at its six warehouses in France. They were temporarily closed in a labor dispute over working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.

    Amazon "is working on a progressive reopening from May 19" in France, it told the French news agency (AFP) in a statement, after unions also said the agreement had been reached on the conditions for restarting operations. The unions said about 50 percent of the workers would be allowed back on a voluntary basis. Amazon is expected to be back to full staffing by June 2.

    The online retailer had been locked in a battle with labor unions which had argued that not enough was done to mitigate the coronavirus risk for staff. Employees had needed to process a flood of orders amid the almost two-month nationwide lockdown that ended on Monday.

    An employee works next to drive units robots at the Amazon fulfilment center in Bretigny-sur-Orge near Paris, France on Oct. 22, 2019. /Reuters

    Last month, an appeals court upheld a ruling that sharply curtailed Amazon's operations and ordered management to review safety measures. The court said only essential items -- office equipment, groceries, medical and personal care products could be delivered in the meantime.

    Amazon said it was impossible to comply with the order, and completely shut down the six sites from mid-April, although it maintained full pay for employees.

    In a statement, France's CFTD labor confederation told AFP the outcome of the negotiations with Amazon was "an important step in the adaptation of this company to the culture of our country, to its rules, and to the requirements for a sustainable and dignified workplace."

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