ECONOMY – “In Orleans, they closed boxes on the streets to exchange books, but I have to pack books, batteries and phone cases every day.” This is how Jean-François Bérot, order picker in the Amazon warehouse in Saran (Loiret) summarizes the situation.
More than a week after Emmanuel Macron announced containment due to the Covid-19, employees of the American group in France are worried. “I find it completely irresponsible to continue doing business. I think no one will die if he does not receive his package in two days, while we, we risk a lot, “warns this union representative Solidaires, the majority union in the company.
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“Extreme security measures”
On March 24, employees of the Saran site learned of the contamination of one of their colleagues, without knowing their identity in order to respect medical confidentiality and their privacy. ”It adds to the concern, “observes the trade unionist who considers that the protective measures put in place by the company are” insufficient “.
Amazon’s management ensures that employee safety is guaranteed. “We have taken extreme measures to keep people safe,” the company told HuffPost on March 24, explaining for example having “tripled the deep cleaning processes of our sites”, or by going “beyond the recommendations made by the government” by imposing safety distances of 2 meters instead of the recommended meter.
“This is the Wild West, we feel abandoned”
“They say they guarantee security, in reality, they guarantee nothing at all,” retorts the 50-year-old employee from a distance. “There’s not enough gel, we don’t take enough breaks to wash our hands and latex gloves are not suitable for working: they tear and there are not enough of them ”, relayed this employee who exercised his right of withdrawal, but who goes daily to the site to listen and advise his colleagues.
Same story for Nicolas (the first name has been changed, Editor's note), 33, unloader on the same Loiret site. “At first, they hadn't anticipated anything. Since the measurers arrive. They put scotch on the ground, but nothing is respected. When you put 500 people in a warehouse, it's impossible to apply that, “he regrets. ”Many managers are on-call or confined, just like Human Resources, so they cannot supervise, there are almost no executives, it's the Wild West and we feel abandoned ”, adds the one who the link between the trucks and the warehouse.
Pénicaud “expressed his dissatisfaction”
Very early on, the government also worried about the situation. “These pressures on workers are unacceptable,” reacted Bruno Le Maire, the Minister of the Economy on March 19, about threats not to pay workers who would exercise their right of withdrawal. On March 24, the entourage of Muriel Pénicaud, the Minister of Labor, told the HuffPost that the latter had “expressed its dissatisfaction to the Director General”. Around her, the minister asked, the same day, “Amazon to take the necessary measures to immediately ensure the protection of employees”.
They sent a document with security standards, but we are not thereAn advisor to Bruno Le Maire
“We are in contact with the government and we are implementing the measures they recommend,” it said on March 25 at Amazon. Within Bruno Le Maire's cabinet, on March 24, the speech had softened somewhat: “Amazon sent a document to the Ministry of Labor with all the safety standards, but we are not there. If security standards are met, there is no problem being 500 in a warehouse. If this is not the case, they must reduce their number, “argued the entourage of the Minister of Economy.
“We have the impression that Amazon and the government are hand in hand to make us work and for the company to make its fat because the orders are full,” lamented Nicolas. ″As long as the government does not prohibit, we have no means of action, “added, disappointed, Jean-François Bérot, of the Saran site.
Saran site manager resigns
Another event which came to upset the life of the Saran site, the resignation of the site director, Ana Fernandes. “She wanted the site closed. EHe had no choice but to leave it open, ”says Jean-François Bérot, who sees it as one of the reasons for his departure. “False”, replies the communication from Amazon France which assures that the director “decided to leave Amazon for personal and family reasons”.
In Montélimar, another episode made noise on the site of the e-commerce company. On March 16, occupational medicine, seized by the Social and Economic Committee (CSE) which replaces the staff representatives, gave a very clear opinion in a letter that The HuffPost consulted: “Taking into account the current epidemic situation on the national territory and taking into account the current governmental directives (and certainly those to come taking into account the current data on the rate of morbidity and the rate of serious case), it would be more prudent in terms of health to stop the activity of the company ”.
Recommendations that have not been followed by the digital giant. “After a visit by the labor inspector during which we provided details of the security measures in place at the Montélimar site, we received a message on March 20 stating that the security conditions allow us to continue working” , argues the company.
This morning, March 25, several Saran employees explained that they arrived confined in a city bus “more than a hundred”. “Already we are not always 2 meters away in the warehouse, but the simple fact that we arrive at 150 in the same bus puts all the other measures obsolete,” says Jean-François Blérot. Safely worker routing measures needed to be taken, but are not yet in place.
“We send sex toys and DVDs”
Another point of disagreement between the unions and the management is the notion of “basic necessities” which they should take care of. “They advertise that they do only the first necessity, when I see the orders that we send, that is to say sex toys and DVDs and that at the same time the government tells us to stay at home, we don't understand, ”observes Nicolas, who says that he, like others, experiences“ anger and fear ”.
“We have not canceled the orders in progress, we have a large selection, but we are prioritizing. We are also contacted by hospitals which need tablets or associations which need games for children ”, answers the management.
Their request for partial unemployment has not yet been heard and the social situation seems more and more tense within the group. “The day after the Macron announcements, they recruited 90 temporary workers. Our managers allow us to talk to us about “service to the nation” to make people feel guilty “, annoys Nicolas, the unloader of the Saran site, before noticing:” For three days, iThey tell us that it will reduce, but we don't see any difference ”.
Social dialogue must be respected, otherwise they will not be able to continue workingMuriel Pénicaud, Minister of Labor
On Europe 1, this March 25, Muriel Pénicaud was asked about the situation of Amazon. “From what I know, the conditions are there. But you cannot expect the same demands as usual, you have to be kind. If this is not done, there will be a subject, they will not be able to continue working, social dialogue must be respected, “said the minister.
After the resignation of Ana Fernandes, a new manager from Montélimar was appointed to replace the management of the Saran site. Unions are due to meet with him in the coming days, but warn: “We will only speak to him if they announce the closure of the site, ”says Jean-François Bérot. ”If they want to shoot, they put us on partial unemployment. Reason would require closing, the rest is criminal ”.
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