Amazon loses appeal in France over worker safety measures

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Paris: Handing a victory to workers unions that slammed Amazon’s safety measures for employees amid COVID-19 pandemic, a French court has ruled against the e-commerce giant’s appeal against a ruling that bars it from selling non-essential goods.

The ruling by a court in Versailles on Friday led Amazon to shut down distribution centres in the country till April 28, CNN reported.

Despite the closure, employees will continue to receive wages, Amazon said.

The case came up after labour unions accused Amazon of not putting in place enough safety measures to protect workers against the virus that causes COVID-19.

Amazon disputed the claim and asserted that it put in place expanded safety measures.

The ruling, however, limits Amazon to selling only essential goods such as groceries, health and body care products, electronics, office equipment, animal care products and home improvement items.

Shipment of an unauthorised product may attract a penalty of up to 100,000 euros ($108,000), the court ruled. Giving reasons behind shutting its distribution centres in France till April 28, Amazon said that it may lose billions in penalty per week even in case of accidental shipment of goods which fall outside the category of products that are allowed.

While Amazon has seen a dramatic spike in demand of its services since the outbreak of COVID-19, it has faced criticism for allegedly not taking enough measures to protect warehouse workers.

The company has faced similar criticism in the US as well.