Amazon says it will begin reopening warehouses in France

Amazon said it has reached an agreement with French trade unions to begin reopening its six warehouses in the country, which are closed because of a dispute over working conditions related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Amazon shut its entire French logistics operation on April 16, saying it could not be sure it was able to comply with a court order that demanded it only handle essential items — or face fines of up to €1m per day.

Workers were sent home on full pay, in accordance with French labour law. The ecommerce giant said it now hoped to begin reopening on May 19.

“We are currently finalising a process with French Unions and Works Councils,” Amazon said. “We are hopeful that we will be able to reopen our French fulfilment centres in the coming days.

“This follows five weeks of discussions in which we have repeatedly provided clarification and information about the extensive safety measures already implemented at our fulfilment centres to keep our employees safe,” it added.

Despite the apparent progress, Amazon confirmed it still intended to contest the order to France’s Supreme Court, having lost its initial appeal last month.

In a joint statement, the unions that brought the legal challenge said reopening would “be gradual and based on being voluntary”.

The CFDT national union said the negotiations were “an important step in the adaptation of this company to the culture of our country, to its rules, and to the CFDT’s requirements for a sustainable and dignified workplace”, according to a statement reported by France’s AFP news agency.

While the warehouses have been closed, Amazon has still been taking and delivering orders in the country via third-party sellers and warehouses in other countries. But French consumers have faced longer delivery times and a narrower range of products.

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