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Labour ministry summons Amazon following complaint by employee union

NITES has written to the Labour Ministry alleging that Amazon India is forcing employees to quit

Amazon | Labour Ministry

Peerzada Abrar  |  Bengaluru 

Under the Industrial Dispute Act, an employer cannot lay off staff without prior permission from the government, and a copy of the application has to be given to the concerned workmen as well

Following a complaint by employee union Nascent Information Technology Employees Senate (NITES) on layoffs by in India, the has summoned an official of the e-commerce firm in Bengaluru on Wednesday.

“You are requested to attend this office with all relevant records in the matter either personally or through an authorized representative on the aforesaid date and time without fail,” said a letter from the Labour Ministry, addressed to Amazon’s senior manager for public policy Smitha Sharma.

The letter was signed by A Anjanappa, Deputy Chief Labour Commissioner in Bengaluru and reviewed by Business Standard.

“We are highly thankful to the Ministry of Labour and Employment for the prompt action initiated to safeguard the interests of Employees,” said NITES President Harpreet Singh Saluja. “We are looking forward to justice for employees. This is a sigh of relief for India employees for time being. We are hoping that the unethical Voluntarily Separation Policy introduced by Amazon will be scrapped by the Government authorities.”

NITES has written a letter to the alleging that it has received complaints from employees of Amazon that they are being forced to quit the company 'voluntarily'. It alleged that the company has sent a detailed Voluntary Separation Program (VSP) as well.

“Livelihood of (thousands) of employees and their families has now been made vulnerable,” said NITES President Harpreet Singh Saluja in the letter. The letter was sent to Union Labour Minister Bhupender Yadav last week. “The company has also given a deadline to the employees till November 30th, 2022 to complete this process.”

The letter said that a lay-off is a condition where the employers are forced to deny work to their workforce owing to conditions that bring forth temporary inability to keep their business going which is clearly not the scenario in Amazon’s case.

Under the Industrial Dispute Act, an employer cannot lay off staff without prior permission from the government, and a copy of the application has to be given to the concerned workmen as well.

The letter said that a worker who has worked for at least a year continuously cannot be retrenched unless he has also been served a notice three months in advance. NITES also claimed Amazon has violated labour laws in the country.

“Hence through this letter, we are seeking your prompt intervention and immediate inquiry to safeguard the welfare, rights and families of (thousands) of Amazon employees,” said the letter.

Amazon has said the current layoffs were part of the annual operating planning review process. However, the company didn’t specify the number of jobs that would be cut in India. According to the sources, attempts would be made to absorb as many within the different business units of the company as possible. Only those for whom it is unable to find a good fit would be asked to go, the sources said.

Amazon will cut jobs again in early 2023, said chief executive officer Andy Jassy in a memo to his employees as he announced the annual planning process will be extended.

According to a report in the 'New York Times', Amazon plans to lay off about 10,000 employees. However, Jassy’s memo did not specify how many people would be impacted.

He said the company has not concluded yet exactly how many roles will be impacted, but each leader will communicate to their teams when they have the details.

The e-commerce firm is in the middle of an annual operating planning review and based on that it would decide about role eliminations. The firm has already paused new incremental hires in the corporate workforce.

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First Published: Tue, November 22 2022. 21:27 IST