Business Standard

Made to stand for 10 hrs: Amazon India staff alleges inhuman work practices

Workplace exploitation: In a survey conducted by UNI Global Union, as many as 1,838 Amazon employees reported dire working conditions at its facilities in India

amazon warehouse

Around 46.4 per cent of warehouse workers said that their salaries were not enough to support their basic needs. (Photo: Bloomberg/file)

Nisha Anand New Delhi
Amazon is in the news again for exploitative work conditions. The company’s warehouse and delivery workers in India have alleged inhuman corporate practices employed at its facilities, including not being allowed enough time to take restroom breaks and a lack of financial assistance for work-related injuries.

As many as 1,838 participants alleged dire working conditions at Amazon’s facilities in India, in a survey conducted by UNI Global Union in partnership with the Amazon India Workers Association (AIWA). The survey was published on Wednesday, prompting the e-commerce firm to deny its claims.

In the survey, four out of five warehouse workers reported that their work targets are ‘very difficult’ to achieve. Of the total participants, 21.3 per cent of the workers and delivery executives said that they faced ‘unsafe’ working conditions under Amazon’s policies.

Restroom breaks are not enough

In a shocking revelation, 86.3 per cent of the warehouse workers and 28 per cent of drivers alleged that the restroom breaks given to them by Amazon are inadequate. They also demanded that the Amazon should lower their targets so they can take proper breaks for eating. According to the workers, Amazon employs mechanisms like ‘identity blocklists’ to highlight the workers who do not meet their targets.

“Feedback for being late is given when you take more than 10 minutes in the washroom,” one of the workers said.

Workers allege high work pressure in Amazon India

“My feet hurt a lot after work for 10 hours standing,” a former warehouse worker told UNI Global Group. Another current worker alleged that the work pressure is so high that the staff does not even get the chance to talk to each other.

One of every five delivery partners surveyed by the researchers said they suffered work related injuries. “I had an accident and no one helped me. I spent all my money,” one of the delivery staff said.

‘Amazon India’s salaries not enough for basic needs’

The workers also complained about issues such as not being allowed to take leaves, not being respected at the workplace and receiving low salaries that barely match the cost of living and basic needs.

Around 46.4 per cent of warehouse workers said that their salaries were not enough to support their basic needs while 52.9 per cent said that it was just enough to meet their basic needs. For delivery staff, this data stood at 37.2 per cent and 60.1 per cent respectively.

Owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos, Amazon has long faced intense scrutiny for its poor treatment of workers. Critics accuse the e-commerce giant of unfairly compensating its employees and actively working to prevent the formation of labour unions among its workforce.

Amazon India refute claims

An Amazon India spokesperson said the claims made by the UNI Global Union survey are factually incorrect and unsubstantiated. It contradicts employees’ direct feedback to the company. “The data being quoted appears at best questionable, and at worst deliberately designed to deliver on a specific narrative that certain groups are trying to claim as fact,” the spokesperson told Business Standard.

“By contrast, in our most recent internal survey at our Manesar fulfilment centre —conducted randomly and anonymously— 87 per cent of our workforce said they were satisfied with their jobs, with as many as eight out of 10 recommending Amazon as a great place to work,” the spokesperson said.

“There’s nothing more important to us than the safety and wellbeing of our employees and associates, and we comply with all relevant laws and regulations. Our facilities are industry-leading and provide competitive pay, comfortable working conditions, and specially designed infrastructure to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for all.” the company said.   

Labour ministry submits report on Amazon India

Notably, last week the Labour Ministry submitted a detailed report of the Haryana government on alleged labour law violations in Amazon’s facilities and said that action has been initiated in the matter.

This comes after the US retail giant, in May, admitted to workplace safety violations at its Manesar warehouse located in Haryana.

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First Published: Jul 11 2024 | 11:33 AM IST

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