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EU Policy. Amazon invites lawmakers to warehouses in face of ban from Parliament

A worker in a Amazon warehouse.
A worker in a Amazon warehouse. Copyright Julio Cortez/Copyright 2017 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Julio Cortez/Copyright 2017 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Cynthia Kroet
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Amazon remains prepared to throw open the doors of its warehouses for EU lawmakers, the tech giant said today (6 February) as politicians called for its lobbyists to be kept out of the European Parliament after failing to appear at a recent hearing.

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The chair of the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee (EMPL), Dragos Pîslaru, has today written to the parliament’s President Roberta Metsola seeking withdrawal of Amazon’s representatives' access badges for its premises.

This came after the US online marketplace did not participate in a parliamentary hearing in Brussels scheduled for 23 January, and missed planned committee debates about workers' rights and freedoms in 2021 and 2023.

Lawmakers set up these discussions with the aim to “better understand media-revealed reports suggesting potential monitoring of Amazon's workers along with other business and workplace practices, which might have been in breach of European labour, data and privacy laws,” the letter – sent this afternoon and seen by Euronews – said. 

Subsequently, a planned committee visit to the Amazon facilities in Germany and Poland to get “first-hand insights” into working conditions at Amazon and start discussions with workers and their representatives, did not go ahead last year.

Pîslaru’s letter said that in light of these circumstances, the coordinators of the EMPL Committee decided to request the withdrawal of access badges for the company’s lobbyists.

“It is unreasonable for members to be lobbied by Amazon while at the same time being deprived of the right to represent the interests of European citizens and inquire about claims of breaches of fundamental rights enshrined in EU Treaties and EU labour laws.”

The access ban could be lifted, the letter said, “when the company's management is willing to engage in genuine dialogue with the Parliament and address our sincere concerns.”

Sarah Tapp, a spokesperson for Amazon told Euronews that the company remains open for a “constructive dialogue on issues facing the logistics industry, and [Amazon] remains committed to engaging with the Committee".

“Many members of the European Parliament have visited our fulfilment centres across the EU in the past and we have reiterated our offer to host Committee members at one of our facilities in the near future,” Tapp added.

Last month, France's data protection authority CNIL fined Amazon a hefty €32m, after it found that Amazon France Logistique, which manages the company's warehouses in France, set up "an excessively intrusive system for monitoring the activity and performance of employees."

The finding followed an inquiry set up in 2019 after a complaint from workers. Amazon France Logistique employs around 20,000 staff in France.

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