Coronavirus Covid-19: Amazon Announces Health Measures in the Face of Social Discontent

Amazon has implemented new health measures for employees during coronavirus epidemic

With confinement, orders on the internet have greatly increased. What about health measures for employees of the giant of online business, Amazon?

Masks for the 13,000 or so French employees and temperature control: the American giant of online commerce Amazon reacted on Friday 3rd April 2020 to the grumbling of the union organizations, without calming all the worries faced with the pandemic of Coronavirus Covid-19.

“We even go further than what the government requests”: Friday at the microphone of RTL, the director-general of Amazon France hammered his message.

“All the recommendations made by the government have been applied from the start very strictly and gradually as they appear.”

In addition, “from today, in all Amazon France buildings, employees will be equipped with masks at their request,” he said. In addition, “from Monday, we will have a temperature control by a thermal camera at the entrance of the sites in France”.

“Announcement effects”

“There are a lot of publicity effects,” retorts Yves Quignon, secretary-general of the local union of the CGT du Douaisis. The latter filed a criminal complaint Tuesday against Amazon for endangering the lives of others after management refused to employees of the Lauwin-Planque site (North) to exercise their right of withdrawal.

“We are told about a mask a day when it is normally necessary to change them every four hours,” he notes.

“Unless the employees are dressed as cosmonauts, the rules of distancing cannot be observed. The concentration of workers makes them ineffective, “says Laurent Degousée, union representative of Sud Commerce, the first union within Amazon in France.

Sud Commerce must also file Friday with the industrial tribunal of Nanterre eleven files of rights of withdrawal of employees contested by Amazon. The union still claims “the closure of six warehouses in France for at least 15 days”, with partial unemployment “and at least that Amazon, which ensures to deliver only essential products, or 10% of total goods, uses only 10% of the staff. ”

The American giant had announced on March 21st to stop taking orders deemed “lower priority” on its French and Italian sites to focus on the most requested products, hygiene or basic.

A CFDT union source from the Saran warehouse in the Loiret region appears to be under the guise of anonymous doubts about this measure. “We have had colleagues who tell us that this was not applied, starting March 17th. 

Amazon workers outside the Staten Island warehouse on strike to demand more protection from the new coronavirus on March 30, 2020 in New York.
Amazon workers outside the Staten Island warehouse on strike to demand more protection from the new coronavirus on March 30, 2020 in New York. (© AFP / Angela Weiss)

Be “a remedy”

In mid-March, the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire had already mentioned “unacceptable pressures” on the part of Amazon, accused of not paying employees wishing to exercise their right of withdrawal. Sunday, the Minister of Labor Muriel Pénicaud had judged for his part that the measures for the protection of employees put in place by Amazon were still insufficient.

“I had the minister on the phone and I invited her to come and see for herself in our distribution centres,” said Frédéric Duval on Friday, ensuring that he discussed “on a daily basis with union organizations”.

“I hope that we, Amazon, have a modest role in managing this crisis, that we are a resource for many French people to stay at home.”

The social grumbling against the American giant is not limited to France, since Monday, several dozen workers from Amazon’s New York warehouse on Staten Island, south of Manhattan, observed a work stoppage. The company also tried to calm concerns by announcing Thursday that it would provide employees with thermometers, masks and disinfectant.

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