In Finistere, Amazon stirs up discord in the area in search of jobs

“Amazon? Fed up!” At the Tabac bar in the middle of Brick (Finisterre), Thierry, the boss, set the tone, and his clients quickly followed suit. “We’ve been arguing with this for two years, we have to stop, launches regularly. Anyway, the site is about to expire, we’re not going to ruin everything anyway? Those around him look questionable.

It must be said that this topic has caused a lot of reactions since the announcement, in the middle of 2020, of the installation in this Breton town. American online retail giant. So much so that it becomes taboo. “No one wants to talk about it, we’re just waiting to see what it really brings us, Says the baker next door whose work overlooks the churchyard. After that, we hope it won’t be too much of an inconvenience. Well known to the inhabitants of the region, this news did not escape the candidates in the legislative elections for the 1st district of Finistère, who were also torn between the economic attractiveness and the social or environmental impact of the logistic location.

Residents of Briec (Finistère) fear that Amazon delivery workers will disrupt traffic in the area.  (Pierre-Louis Caron / France Info)

If she chooses Amazon Briec, it is above all because this location will allow her to deliver more quickly to her customers at the tip of Brittany. The city of nearly 6000 inhabitants is ideally located along the highway that connects Quimper and Brest. It also had an industrial area where land was available to accommodate approximately 7,000 square meters of warehouses that the company had envisioned. But soon the Amazon project was faced with the rejection of part of the population, they tried to prevent it, without success.

Leaning on a high table in her kitchen, Catherine Malbranque remembers the actions taken against this neighbor’s installation like no other. “We tried a lot of things. Some activists went so far as to limit themselves to the site’s portal, but it wasn’t enough”She says quit. Retired literature teacher, activist “French Rebellious Trend”She lives in a small village located a few kilometers from the future Amazon site. a “Ecological aberration”, according to her opinion. “We are not the only ones in this situation. The number of Amazon warehouses in France has exploded in five years, from four in 2017 to 44 today”She deplores, citing a statement from Friends of the Earth. Amazon France officially includes on its site 33 institutions, including eight distribution centers such as the one planned in Briec.

Catherine Malbranque, an active member of the Stop Amazon Briec collective, at her home in Brik (Finistere), May 17, 2022. (PIERRE-LOUIS CARON / FRANCEINFO)

Alongside him, Emmanuel and Jane, two other members of the Stop Amazon Briec collective, reveal their list of grievances: road pollution, overconsumption, and soil industrialization. “In the current climatic context, I do not understand how such a project could be validated, Emmanuel asks. From transportation to packaging to fuel, nothing is perfect.” The 50-year-old, who works in the field of seeds, dwells in the land attributed to the Amazon. “At that time, the industrial zone was set up on a former wetland. Today, it will not be touched”, sorry. To her left, Jan, 77, is afraid to see the town roads “Invaded by delivery men paid by the package”.

“It’s farmland being polished for good. All so that trucks move things at full speed from the other side of the world.”

Jane, a member of the Stop Amazon Briec collective

in franceinfo

Despite the actions of the group, the depot finally came out of the ground in the fall of 2021. The block is all shades of gray, equipped with a huge loading tank, it should be put into service at the end of 2022. “For us, the fight continuesCatherine Malbranck confirms, Because the problem will appear elsewhere in France.” He also warns the group members that they will stay “very precise” Regarding the working conditions of 80 employees and 250 subcontractors the company promises to hire, “As soon as possible, one to two months before the opening of the site,” Confirms to the company. Meanwhile, at the local mission in Briec, as well as at the Pôle emploi agency in Quimper Nord, We haven’t seen any offers from Amazon yet. franceinfo consultants explained.

These are often challenging tasks, and there are concerns that the rates are synonymous with the risks for these workers.” Emmanuel notes. Above all, activists do not look favorably on the positions promised by the American giant. “For every job created at Amazon, roughly two to four jobs are destroyed.” guarantee Catherine Malbranck. This ratio, which was already brought up in 2019 by the former Minister of State for Digital Affairs, Mounir Mahjoubi, is based on an estimate of the number of job cuts in physical commerce due to Amazon’s activities, as well as the allowed labor supply rates the American giant.

franceinfo contacted logistics company Amazon saying that it employs more than 15,000 employees on permanent contracts in France and that, two years after the permanent contract, it is paying, “A bonus of over 25% from Smic for its agents”. Regarding the environmental aspect, the company confirms that the Briec site will have photovoltaic panels and low-consumption lighting, emphasizing that Efforts will be made To use more electric trucks and cargo bikes in the last mile.

In the center of Briec, merchants, in no way, did not wait for the establishment of the warehouse to get an idea of ​​\u200b\u200bsales online. “I sell books, so I’m definitely against Amazon!”Marie-Pierre Haimon, who has run the local library since 1992, stated “Change the mindset” among consumers. “People don’t have time anymore, they want everything, right away, and they don’t see the logistics behind it.” However, a few years ago Marie-Pierre gave up some space for this system, which she criticizes, by creating an ejection point at the end of her counter. “He brings people to the store, downtown, She explained. And then, why resist? We seem to be facing a tidal wave. “

Paul Le Bras, breeder and farmer, at the shop where he sells his produce in Brick (Finistere), May 17, 2022. (PIERRE-LOUIS CARON / FRANCEINFO)

A few streets away, installed at the exit of the local producers’ store, Paul Lopras gives a similar speech. “I’m a breeder and farmer, and I’ve been certified organic for over twenty years, yet I also buy from Amazon”breathes. The platform, like other online selling sites, allows him in particular to carry out ‘Big savings’ on professional equipment. “On the other hand, I aggregate my purchases and make three orders a year, is the details. It is less harmful to the planet.” When asked about the regulation of online sales, the farmer is pessimistic to say the least. “TAs long as people buy, this system will grow, no matter what our deputies may decide, Throw. I think sometimes we have more power with our credit card than with our ballot.”

Besides the controversy surrounding the tactics of the company founded by billionaire Jeff Bezos, some have yet to fully understand the way the deal was struck in the Kimber Basin. At the end of June 2020, Quimper Mayor Isabelle Asseh (PS) discovered that her predecessor, Ludovic Jolivet (Aguirre), who was head of the Quimper Brittany Occidental (QBO) conglomerate, had secretly signed a sale deal at the end of June 2020. The giant’s inauguration agreement was days before Few of the second round of municipal elections. Since then, local elected officials have been very cautious about this issue. “You have to understand that this is a project we inherited, and it was very difficult to cancel”we confirm to Quimper’s mayor’s office.

Today, Ludovic Jolifit, who has been switched back in contact, defends Amazon’s dedicated reception. “Politicians want jobs but often shirk when it doesn’t satisfy everyone. Personally, I think one should never spit on jobs”, which he trusts in franceinfo. With an unemployment rate of 6%, the Kimber Basin “Does better than the national average”, which was 7.2% in the first quarter of 2022, we explain to the Local Employment Center. A dynamic mainly driven by agri-food and tourism, “that the team should keep” Ludovic Jolivet confirms.

“In our lands, we don’t necessarily have a choice of jobs. Working at Amazon is no more difficult than working in a slaughterhouse or in textiles.”

Ludovic Jolivet, former mayor (Aguir) of Quimper

in franceinfo

to me Breck, former (PS) mayor Jean-Hubert Pettellon, now retired, shares this observation. But the first team still raises a relatively unequal balance of power. “In the face of Amazon, it is difficult for an elected local official to negotiate,” trust. Therefore, in the context of competition between conglomerates, elected officials must sometimes “make concessions” to ‘boosting their economy’he explains.

In the face of the fait accompli, the current mayors of Brick and Quimper insisted that certain conditions be imposed on the creation of the multinational, such as reducing the site area, commitments in favor of local builders, such as as well as hiring staff in the Quimper Basin. “At the time of the negotiations, we were on our ownwe refer to the office of the Mayor of Quimper. It was hard to put ourselves in a position when discussions about Amazon, its activities, and its taxes, for example, remain unresolved at the national level. The task of deputies with a new law? “He would have given us a frame, actually.”

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