France orders Amazon to only ship essential goods


A picture taken on June 9, 2016 shows Amazon warehouse in Paris, part of the new service ‘Prime Now’.

Eric Piermonth | AFP | Getty Images

Amazon has been ordered to limit French deliveries to essential goods only within 24 hours to allow for a deeper assessment of coronavirus risks at its sites in the country, trade union Sud said on Tuesday. 

Some unions had been calling for the complete closure of Amazon’s activities in France, or at the very least a further clampdown, after raising concerns over health standards and working conditions as the outbreak continues. 

The U.S. online retailing giant, which has previously said it adheres to health guidelines, had no immediate comment. 

The basic goods Amazon will be allowed to ship include food and hygiene products or medical items, Sud said after receiving the ruling by the Nanterre court just outside Paris. 

The court also ruled that Amazon will have to pay a penalty of 1 million euros per day of delay in complying with the order, the union added. 

Amazon had already restricted the scope of products to be given priority in its warehouses in several countries, including France, though these still included items such as books. 

The Amazon website was also receiving many orders for craft kits or home-improvement goods during France’s broad lockdown to contain the coronavirus. Some employees said that, in recent weeks, they were packing video games and sex toys. 

Amazon came under scrutiny from labour inspectors and was told to improve conditions at five French sites. Of those, health conditions have now been met at three warehouses. 

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

Amazon has said it has provided employees with sanitizer gel and other equipment, and that it has gone beyond government guidelines on safety distances. 

The e-commerce company has reported virus cases among warehouse staff and faced several demonstrations. It has now said it will roll out temperature checks and face masks for staff at all of its U.S. and European warehouses. 

Amazon has also been contending with a surge in demand and on Monday said that it would hire 75,000 more U.S. workers for jobs ranging from warehouse staff to delivery drivers.

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