World News

France’s Carrefour gives masks after staff walkout over coronavirus

VITROLLES, France (Reuters) – Staff working in a supermarket of French retailer Carrefour <CARR.PA> in the southern city of Vitrolles will receive protective masks after some employees walked out over health risks associated with the coronavirus, a union said on Monday.

Employees had criticized working conditions after some have tested positive for coronavirus, the union said.

French law gives workers a “droit de retrait” – or “right to withdraw” – under legislation introduced by Socialist President Francois Mitterrand in the early 1980s, if they feel there is a danger to their safety.

“Management just provided us with masks and we are in the process of setting up a distribution protocol so that returning to work would happen in the best conditions,” the CGT union’s representative, Reda Longar, told Reuters.

The supermarket at Vitrolles, near Marseille, has 515 employees.

A Carrefour spokeswoman also told Reuters that the company would distribute 2 million masks to its staff across the country.

Since French authorities ordered a lockdown and social distancing measures in mid-March to fight the coronavirus outbreak spread, Carrefour has put up protective barriers for cashiers.

(Reporting by Marc Leras; Additional reporting by Caroline Pailliez; Writing by Matthieu Protard; Editing by Alex Richardson)