Amazon France: fine of 90,000 euros per day for “unbalanced” contractual clauses in a context of wage crisis

The weather has been stormy at Amazon these past few days. In addition to complicated salary negotiations, the American giant was pinned down by the DGCCRF. Amazon is fined 90,000 euros per day for failing to comply with an injunction from the repression of Fraud regarding the presence of “unbalanced” clauses in its contracts with merchants selling through it , announced the DGCCRF in a press release.

The repression of fraud had ordered Amazon Services Europe to comply with the presence of “unbalanced and non-compliant clauses in contracts with third-party sellers of the platform”. The platform was also ordered to comply with the European regulation “promoting fairness and transparency for companies using online intermediation services”.

“As Amazon Services Europe has not fully complied with the injunction notified to it, it is now subject to a penalty payment of 90,000 euros per day of delay”, specifies the press release issued on Wednesday. In 2019, the Paris Commercial Court, seized by the repression of Fraud (DGCCRF), sentenced Amazon to a fine of 4 million euros for “manifestly unbalanced” contractual clauses towards companies using its platform. The DGCCRF then noted an asymmetry in the balance of power between the American giant and companies wishing to sell through it.

“Amazon has implemented many measures to ensure effective protection of its customers, defends the company for its part. The terms and conditions applicable to our marketplace, in particular, are designed to prevent abuse, including price gouging, spamming and other inappropriate behavior”. Amazon argues that these “rules made it possible, for example, to avoid the appearance of exorbitant prices for masks or hydroalcoholic gel during the Covid-19 pandemic”. “The changes imposed by the DGCCRF will prevent us from ensuring effective consumer protection and will allow malicious actors to set excessive prices or spam our customers with commercial offers”, estimates the e-commerce giant, which “will comply with the decision of the DGCCRF”. Even if it is a decision that he “absolutely does not understand” and that he “will challenge in court”.

Salary crisis

This is bad timing, while the American group has been engaged for ten days in a social movement to demand a significant increase in wages from Amazon France, the inter-union of the e-commerce giant puts pressure on Wednesday on the eve of the last meeting of the mandatory annual negotiations. “Because the management despises you for its silence, because it prefers to increase the big salaries rather than yours… the movement continues”, warn the trade unions in a new joint leaflet calling for “the strike and the walkout” Thursday morning.

Monday April 4, the eight logistics sites of Amazon France had mobilized at the call of the CFDT, Sud, the CGT, the CAT and the union of executives CFE-CGC, aligned for the first time, in order to protest against a proposal for a “derisory” increase of 3%. That day, the movement had, according to them, gathered more than a thousand strikers. Since then, the action has continued and the various sites have in turn continued to express their dissatisfaction.

“Between 2,000 and 2,100 of some 11,000 workers in France have mobilized at least once,” assures Morgane Boulard (CFDT), whose costing is consistent with that of Hakim Taoufik (CAT). “It’s a lot, because it’s not in the Amazon culture,” says Alain Jeault (CGT). “Tomorrow, it can explode,” warns Mr. Taoufik, who is awaiting the latest proposals from Amazon to see what response to adopt.

He also deplores the “threats” and “intimidation” for which certain leaders and site managers have allegedly been responsible in recent days by directly challenging certain strikers. “In my opinion, these are more personal initiatives than instructions from the general management,” said Ms. Boulard, while the inter-union is demanding a 5% general increase.

Amazon’s proposal is “higher than the median salary increases expected this year”, assures the group, which recalls that market analysts predict average increases “between 2 and up to 2.5%” among players in the sector. “A general salary increase of +3% would imply that the hourly entry salary would have gone from 10.66 euros in May 2021 to 11.20 euros after these NAO (i.e. an increase of more than 5%, editor’s note), while the hourly minimum wage will probably drop from 10.25 euros in May 2021 to around 10.82/10.85EUR in May 2022”, continues Amazon, while many social conflicts on similar issues are currently taking place in other groups.

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