Amazon shut down its French operation on Wednesday after a court found that it did not do enough to protect its workers from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The ruling followed a complaint filed by Union Syndicale Solidaires, a French group of trade unions that has been critical of the safety standards by Amazon during this public health emergency.
“The company is forced to suspend all production activities in all of its distribution centers in order to assess the inherent risks in the COVID-19 epidemic and take the necessary measures to ensure the safety of its employees,” Amazon said in a document seen by Reuters.
While the court ruling allowed Amazon to continue to ship food and medicine, the company opted to shut down its operations until Monday, April 20, so it could complete a full health and safety assessment.
Amazon would have faced a daily fine of nearly $1.1 million if it did not comply with the court’s ruling within 24 hours.
“We’re puzzled by the court ruling given the hard evidence brought forward regarding security measures put in place to protect our employees. Our interpretation suggests that we may be forced to suspend the activity of our distribution centers in France.”
This operational shut down impacts 10,000 permanent and temporary workers in six facilities Amazon operates in France. The company plans to appeal the court order.
France is experiencing one of the worst coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreaks with 131,365 cases and 17,188 deaths as of Wednesday, April 15, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
On its amazon.fr website, Amazon says customers can still place orders but it does not provide a specific return to service date. Furthermore, it says delivery estimates have been adjusted to account for the temporary suspension of service.
As of this update, for items that include the Prime delivery badge, the earliest delivery estimates show April 23.
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