Hundreds protest Amazon expansion in France

Hundreds protest Amazon expansion in France
Image: Raymond Roig / AFP
Hundreds rallied in several French towns on Saturday, January 30th, in protests against Amazon called by anti-capitalist and environmental groups, including at one site where the US e-commerce giant plans a massive warehouse.

Amazon plans to set up a 38,000-square-metre (400,000-square-feet) facility in the small southern town of Fournes near the Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct bridge that is a World Heritage site.

A crowd police said numbered around 800 and which organisers estimated at 1,400 rallied at the site, planting shrubs in front of huge banners reading “Stop Amazon” and “Not here or anywhere”.

They formed a human chain to show the size of the project, while multicoloured balloons floated 18 metres (60 feet) up to indicate the height of the planned five-storey facility.

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“It's two years that the citizens of Fournes and its surroundings have fought against the installation of a giant Amazon warehouse,” said Raphael Pradeau, spokesman for French citizens' activist group Attac.

“At the start they were a bit alone against everyone, but they have succeeded in halting the project thanks to legal recourse.”

“We want to show that these are not small isolated fights and that we can mobilise hundreds of people who are ready to return to stop the work”, said Pradeau.

Protesters in Fournes, France. Photo: Sylvain Thomas / AFP

Precarious jobs

Sarah Latour, 38, came with her two sons aged eight and six, and the family
planted a shrub in waste ground, where vines had once grown.

“These plants, these shrubs that we are planting today are a symbol of life that contrasts with the concreting that Amazon practises,” she said. “I came with my children because I don't want this destructive model for them.”

About 200 people also rallied outside an Amazon facility in Carquefou, a suburb of the western city of Nantes, organisers said.

“We condemn Amazon for destroying more jobs than they create, and that these are insecure jobs,” said Sophie Jallier, a spokeswoman for the organisers in Carquefou.

In the eastern town of Ensisheim, about 100 people gathered to protest a plan to build a giant warehouse on a 15-hectare site of former agricultural land. Bannners read “Amazon, Fiscal Vampire” and “No mega warehouse.”

“Today, we condemn an economic system that is at the end of its rope and which is using the planet,” said Isabelle Schaeffer, a member of an environmental group in the Sud Alsace region.

Other protests were held in Augny, in the eastern Moselle region, and in Perpignan in the south.

Amazon practices “unfair competition with regard to businesses that pay their taxes in France”, Eric Barbier of the environmental group Alteratiba said in Perpignan.

In addition, “most workers are on precarious contracts, hired during peak periods such as Black Friday or Christmas and are then thrown out”.


Member comments

  1. I would like to see Amazon’s offer improve in France, particularly their delivery drivers not launching parcels over the gate in the rain. I’m confident France/EU will figure out a way to tax and regulate them appropriately, as the US is failing to tax/regulate big tech. It would be great if Amazon could offer its logistics support on vaccine distribution as goodwill, like it has done in the US.

  2. Blah, blah, blah….. find some work to do so you can use Amazon??? Oh yea, those fancy, new, portable phones will never work either…. Reading a newspaper on a computer? Preposterous! What? Electric cars? No way!! Automatic wine bottle opener/corkscrew? Well now, that’s different!

  3. Tarquin, “people like you,” who begin their sentences with invective, are usually the ones spewing rubbish. In this case it appears, a knee-jerk reaction to a challenge to your personal Amazon investment. Your reference to 80’s big box retail growth and increasing car reliance, has nothing to do with online shopping, which is equally a threat to big box retailers. Your reference to “content” employees is widely disputed, and contary to the history of monopolistic enterprises. Your argument is based on neo-liberal assumptions about “free-markets,” ignoring that regulations are what create the even playing fields required for real free markets. Amazon is a monopolistic behemoth borne of 40 years of Reaganism that has ushered in the inequality and erosion of free-markets in the U.S. In prior decades, it would have been broken-up under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. There is no reason for France to fall victim to it.

  4. Bill Adams what absolute rubbish. People like you always make me laugh because for one reason you have no conception of retail or of owning anything in a high street. The demise of the high street started long before Amazon arrived. Peoples shopping habits changed with the arrival of cars, then the lack of parking, then the pedestrianization of high streets. On top of that rates and rent went up. The arrival of out of town shopping centres where one could go into one shop or mall and get everything one wanted. To blame Amazon for the demise is just ignorance and more the likely jealousy of Amazons turnover but what is forgotten are the years it was running at a loss for it’s investors of which I was one. Let’s not forget the thousands of people it employs who are content working for them no matter what the papers, unions and people like you think.

  5. Agree with protesters. Amazon is an existential threat to small retail in France, which in turn, is an existential threat to the livability of French cities and towns, which in turn is a threat to France’s important tourism sector. In the U.S., they are virtually a monopoly that during a healthier period of the Country’s democracy, would have been broken-up or made into a public utility. In addition to severely limiting Amazon’s growth here, I think France should require Amazon to source goods only from French bricks & mortar retailers, and pay impact fees. Finally, France should claw-back Amazon’s Covid profits (which came at the expense of small retailers during their closures and curfew-limited hours) with a windfall profits tax.

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