MILAN (Reuters) - Around one-third of those working at an Amazon <AMZN.O> delivery station in central Italy went on strike on Monday, a union representative said, citing a request for enhanced safety measures for workers amid the coronavirus health emergency.
A company representative told Reuters activity at Amazon's site in Calenzano, near Florence, was not affected and said it had already cut deliveries and stepped up safety measures to protect both its direct employees and independent couriers.
Around 300 people work at the site, more than two-thirds of them independent couriers delivering parcels for the world's largest online retailer.
The death toll in Italy from COVID-19 has risen by 812 in the last 24 hours, the Civil Protection Agency said on Monday, reversing two days of declines. The country, the hardest hit in the world, saw its total death tally rise to 11,591 since the outbreak emerged in northern regions on Feb. 21.
To grapple with an unprecedented health emergency, the Italian government on March 22 ordered non-essential businesses to close until at least April 3. But it said others in strategic and essential sectors should keep working.
Parcel and mail delivery is considered essential and has not halted, provided the one-meter safety distance is respected and workers wear face masks and gloves.
"Several employees working at the site use face masks for days instead of having new ones each day," one union representative told Reuters. He added that Amazon representatives did not attend a meeting called by local authorities in Florence to discuss the health emergency.
Amazon said it has reduced deliveries in Italy since March 22, focusing on products that are most-wanted by customers and stopped accepting orders for many products not considered a priority.
"As customers use e-commerce as a useful tool for their social distancing efforts, we too have adopted specific measures within our sites so that our employees can respect social distance and work safely," the company said in a statement.
Amazon said it was also supporting delivery service providers by providing drivers daily with sanitizing wipes and a bottle of disinfectant. It also said it created a committee with workers to discuss safety issues.
(Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by Dan Grebler)