After many twists and turns, the Amazon case is coming to an end. The American online distribution giant seems to have found an agreement with their social partners to gradually reopen the French warehouses starting May 19th.
In a press release greeting the reopening of its Brétigny-sur-Orge warehouse, Amazon says they are "happy dialog with staff representatives leading to a continuous improvement logic enables to end up to a sereine and long-term reopening. At the end of the meeting, both parts have agreed to let go of the ongoing pleas" the American giant adds saysing that it "includes the decision to bring the case to the court of cassation"
For the record, Amazon's warehouses had to close this past April 16th following two judiciary decision showing lacks of security amid the Covid-19 health crisis.
Amazon’s management board keeps on suspending deliveries in France. Initially said to stop from April 16 to April 28, and then to May 5, 2020 it is now extedned until May 18th included.
"Our distribution centers are safe. Yet, the damages, as given by the Court of Appeals, mean that even with a tiny rate of non-authorized products accidentally treated, around 0.1%, the risk of breaking the decision of the Court of Appeals could lead to a penalty of over a billion euros per week. This is why we have no other choice than extending the temporary adjournment of the activity in our French distribution centers" the company explains announcing "temporary adjournment of work on these sites until May 18th".
As for employees, the AFP revealed that Amazon applied for partial unemployment scheme for its 6 French warehouses, now not working, on Thursday April 30th. The request has been rejected by the administration; we learn this Monday May 4.
By the way, different trade unions (CGT, CFDT and SUD d’Amazon France) have said this request for partial unemployment was “indecent”: “This scheme has been set up to help employees whose activity has been stopped during this period, such as for restaurants and non-essential stores”.
Mid-April, the Minister of Labor said Amazon upgraded to compliance three of its five French sites for which, the American giant was put on notice by the Health and Safety Executive, after a first control that showed inadequate health safety measures.
But Nanterre judicial tribunal handed down its verdict a few days later, demanding the American leader to “restrict the activity of its warehouses to the sole activities of receiving goods, preparing and sending orders of food, hygiene products and medical goods or be fined one million euros per day of delay and per offense noticed”.
A decision that was to be applied to all Amazon warehouses in France, for maximum one month; but that could be extended with a new judgement if need be. The American leader announced it was appealing, before deciding to close its six distribution centers in France (employing over 10,000 people) from April 16th and until further notice.
“The company must suspend all production activity in all distribution centers to assess risks inherent to the COVID-19 epidemic and make the necessary measures to make sure employees are safe”.
While Amazon warehouses in France are still shut, Amazon France general manager Frédéric Duval gave an interview to Le Parisien in order to reassure customers, saying that as long as French warehouses are closed, the American company will keep on delivering by picking up in stocks in its global warehouses (Spain, Italy, Germany).
This Friday April 24th, the Versailles Court of Appeals rejected Amazon’s appeal and confirms the first judgment condemning them to only deliver first necessity products.
“The Court of Appeals confirms the court’s ruling from April 14th, 2020 that simplified joint-stock company Amazon France Logistique was to proceed, by associating employee representative, to the assessment of professional risks inherent to the Covid-19 epidemic in all its warehouses and the set up of measures as planned by the article L. 4121-1 from the labor code” the Court press release reads.
Since then, Amazon limited its activity “to the sole operations of receiving goods, preparing and sending orders of products as included in the company’s catalog as of April 21st, 2020, that are”:
Limited activity explains while waiting time for deliveries, even Prime ones, are longer.