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Amazon shutters French warehouses until 5 May

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Amazon has told all warehouse employees to stay home until 5 May after a court appeal failed.

The decision comes as Amazon evaluates how to proceed after being ordered by the Versailles Court of Appeal to shut down all non-essential shipments due to alleged unsafe conditions in its warehouses. The decision was upheld in an appeals court earlier this week.

The ecommerce giant had been told that it can only ship certain items including high-tech and IT products, animal-related products, health, body care, nutrition and pharmacy. Every shipment of a non-accepted product could result in a €100,000 fine.

The company said that continuing to operate could risk fines of over €1 billion per week.

Amazon said that French customers could continue to order items from abroad or from third-party sellers on the marketplace.

“Our fulfilment centres in France and around the world are safe,” Amazon said in a statement. “The court’s decision underscores the fact that this is not about safety but rather certain unions leveraging the process of formal procedural consultation with works councils for their own agenda.

“We have involved works councils since the beginning to align on safety measures which have been deployed across all our sites, and we are proud of the many changes we’ve made together to keep our teams safe while serving our customers in France and around the world.

“We do not believe this decision is in the best interest of French communities, employees or the thousands of French SMEs who rely on Amazon to grow their businesses.”

The court in Nanterre, near Paris, ruled on 14 April that Amazon would have to limit the activity of its six warehouses in the country to only ship essential categories such as food, hygiene and medical items.

The case had been brought by trade union Solidaires and the Friends of the Earth association.

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