France orders Amazon to deliver only essential products

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Amazon has been ordered to limit French deliveries of essential products only within 24 hours to allow a more thorough assessment of the risks of coronavirus at its sites in the country, the South union said on Tuesday.

Some unions had called for a complete shutdown of Amazon’s operations in France, or at least a new crackdown, after raising concerns about health standards and working conditions as the epidemic continues.

The US online retail giant, which previously claimed to adhere to health guidelines, made no immediate comments.

The commodities that Amazon will be allowed to ship include food and hygiene or medical supplies, Sud said after receiving the Nanterre court ruling just outside Paris.

The court also ruled that Amazon will have to pay a fine of 1 million euros per day late to comply with the order, the union added.

Amazon had already restricted the scope of products to prioritize in its warehouses in several countries, including France, even if these still included items such as books.

Amazon’s website also received numerous orders for craft kits or home improvement products during the massive foreclosure of France to contain the coronavirus. Some employees said that in the past few weeks they have been packaging video games and sex toys.

Amazon has come under scrutiny from labor inspectors and has been asked to improve conditions at five French sites. Among these, sanitary conditions are now fulfilled in three warehouses.

Workers have clashed with Amazon in France and elsewhere over the extent to which protection directives are implemented.

Amazon said it provided employees with disinfectant gel and other equipment, and went beyond government guidelines for safe distances.

The e-commerce company has reported virus infections among warehouse staff and has faced several protests. It has now announced that it will deploy temperature controls and masks for personnel at all of its US and European warehouses.

Amazon also faced increased demand and announced Monday that it would hire an additional 75,000 American workers for jobs ranging from warehouse workers to delivery drivers.

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