Amazon India warehouse workers are coming out to reveal the distressing conditions they have to work in along with the lack of proper facilities, management encouraging overwork, lack of breaks, making them pledge not even to take a toilet break or drink water, constant supervision through CCTVs.

The Inhumane Conditions Of Amazon Warehouse Workers

Several reports have been coming out of Amazon India’s warehouse workers talking about the conditions in the warehouses and how much pressure they are under constantly.

Manju Goel, leader of the association in Haryana’s Manesar, as per a Hindustan Times report said “We cannot go to the washroom for hours at end and the break rooms are very small which cannot contain so many workers, it gets unbearable especially in the heat,” and that the 2,000 workers in her warehouse while making a mere Rs. 10,000 a month have to endure oppressive conditions, stand for over 10 hours with no seating provided.

On June 4th, the Amazon India Workers Association (AIWA) posted on X/Twitter how during the recent heatwave employees did not have proper resting areas writing “During the ongoing heatwave, Amazon warehouse workers are forced to rest in locker rooms due to lack of proper facilities. AIWA urges Amazon to provide decent resting areas and implement immediate heat protection measures.”

Amazon India Workers Association (AIWA) convenor Dharmendra Kumar revealed that the heatwave going through the country had worsened the conditions and made employees rise up to demand better conditions saying, “Workers have sent evidence from different locations like loading areas, unloading areas, scanning areas, and packing areas… despite most areas being air-conditioned, workers reported temperatures exceeding 30°C, which is unacceptable.”

An Indian Express report had a 24-year-old part-time lumper at Amazon’s DEL 4 fulfilment centre in Manesar reveal how he makes just Rs. 10,000 while working 5 days a week for 10 hours a day and that “Even if we work without any breaks, including the lunch and tea breaks that are 30 minutes each, we can’t unload more than four trucks a day. Just two days ago, we took a pledge that we would forgo water and washroom breaks to improve performance and attain the target.”

According to a TOI report, Amazon’s largest warehouses in NCR, are Gurgaon’s Del-4 and Del-5 and have roughly 2,000 workers each with contracted ones having a CTC of Rs. 13,520 (Rs. 10,087 take home) while part-timers make Rs. 614 per shift.

The workers are also not official Amazon employees instead being supplied by firms like Om Unique, Om Enterprises, Pranav, Simran Enterprises, and Weaving Enterprise.

Sheetal, a worker was quoted by TOI saying “feels like being trapped in a jail” and how they go through a drill before their 10-hour shift to emphasise that all workers should meet 100% of their targets. Ritesh, a worker from Del-5 (Bilaspur) explained “It’s meant to get us into the zone.”

Sheetal from the stowing section of Del-4 (Manesar, Gurgaon), also said that her “brutal hourly targets” involve packing 150 items per house and that “Once you’re in, you’re on the move all the time. No breaks and no sitting down, even if you need to put stuff into the lowest rack. Bend and stretch, but don’t sit. Sitting counts as idle time. Even toilet breaks are idle time. We get pulled up for it.

Cameras cover all sections of the warehouse, so supervisors have eyes on us all the time. Workers get text messages if they are seen sitting down. Supervisors send screenshots encircling anyone who is inactive on our WhatsApp groups.”

Another worker named Gita from Del-4 revealed that Prime customer carts are to be filled in by a deadline and “In case we get injured or feel unwell, we’re simply told to continue. If we can’t, we must face consequences. I had to rush to the washroom once, but when I returned after five minutes, the work had been given to someone else and I was threatened with blacklisting.”

Sheetal also recalled a time when “I had stowed nine ‘high-risk-value items’ into a stack meant for ‘small items’. The system is automated, but the scanners missed it, too. I was called by the SLP [security loss petition] team in the only room that has no CCTV cameras. They asked me to give it in writing that it was my mistake, or else they would charge me with theft.”

Akhil, a 24-year-old from Del-4’s docking area spoke about how despite his job being physically demanding and a heatwave going on there were no fans or coolers for him saying, “Large metal containers, which can be as heavy as 100kg, are brought here. In summer, these are red hot to touch. Our job is to put them on the conveyor belt that takes them into the warehouse. The belt never stops.”

It was also revealed in the AIWA’s statement on June 4th that on May 16 a supervisor made the Del-4 workers take an oath to not take toilet or water breaks.

In a TOI report, workers revealed that this happened around 4.30 PM after the supervisor felt that they might not meet their target due to an overload of orders and said, “Say after me: ‘we will achieve the target, we won’t go to the washroom, we will not drink water’.”

Read More: “He LOVES The Company,” Indian CEO Gets Roasted For Praising Employee Sleeping In An Auto

What Is Amazon’s Response To This?

While attempts at a protest called ‘Make Amazon Pay’ have been made since 2022 on the ‘Black Friday’ considered to be the busiest business day for Amazon, it hasn’t resulted in any change.

As per the AIWA, the protests demand an “eight-hour workday, minimum salary of Rs 25,000, humane work targets, adherence to labour laws, proper seating arrangements, festival bonuses and compliance with International Labour Organisation norms” and the workers apply for mass leave.

However, the leave applications are always cancelled and only a few hundred or so workers gather while fearing being blacklisted by the management.

Dharmender Kumar, convenor of AIWA, said, “No action has been taken on these complaints as workers here cannot unionise like they can in foreign countries. Amazon is still not communicating with us and has only issued statements to the media. But they’ve said they are looking into the allegations.”

The AIWA had written to the Ministry of Labour and Employment, according to a May 28, 2024 press release calling out their conditions and requesting action to be taken.

Amazon has also made public statements and written a letter to the government addressing the issues, however, there has been no change in the actual working conditions as per the AIWA.

In one statement Amazon said “Safety and wellbeing of our associates is of utmost priority for us… All Amazon sites have been equipped with heat index devices that constantly monitor changes in temperature, and our teams implement appropriate corrective measures to provide comfortable working conditions.

These include temporarily suspending work in areas reporting a high heat index. Our buildings are temperature controlled… have proper ventilation, offer adequate provision of water and ORS, and follow job rotation as well as work-rest cycles in case of high heat index.”

They further said “We’re investigating these claims, but to be clear, we’d never make these kinds of requests on our employees as part of standard business practice. If we discovered an incident such as the one that’s been alleged, we’d immediately put a stop to it and ensure the manager involved was re-trained on our expectations of team support, health, and safety. We’ll continue to investigate.”

Referring to the inhumane conditions Amazon stated “Our buildings have cooling systems like ventilation, fans, and spot coolers. We provide plenty of water and hydration, regular rest breaks in cooler areas, and extra breaks when it’s hot. Employees can take informal breaks anytime during their shifts to use the restroom, get water, or talk to a manager or HR.”

The group released a statement on 26th June just after Amazon India’s letter to the government stating “Our investigation revealed that on May 16, 2024, around 16:30 hours, after both the breaks for the day had been taken, one of the employees at the building did lead a small subset of employees and associates at the Subject FC in a pledge. T

he employee thought of the pledge as a motivational exercise. This was an unfortunate and isolated incident and a clear violation of our workplace standards. Prompt disciplinary action has been taken against this employee,” and “We take the lessons learnt from this disappointing incident seriously and will double down on our efforts to re-train our managers on workplace, health, safety and wellbeing.”

In the statement, AIWA claimed that the warehouse management had not addressed any of the issues raised including “prolonged work hours, lack of adequate restrooms and seating, setting of unachievable targets, blocking of cards and blacklisting, lack of annual wage revisions and a forum for grievance redress.”

This is not the first time that Amazon has been called out for inhumane working conditions with reports coming out in 2019 of workers from the UK Amazon warehouse claiming how they had to urinate in plastic bottles since they were discouraged from taking toilet breaks while on their shift.

Union officials revealed that more than 600 reports had been made from Amazon warehouses in the past four years to their health and safety executive and action was being taken.

In the US too the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the US called out the company in 2022 and 2023 “for unsafe working conditions, ergonomic risks, and inadequate injury reporting at six warehouses,” as per reports.

The National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) has also said they will be taking action against Amazon after these reports came out stating “The Commission has observed that the contents of the news report, if true, raise a serious issue of human rights of the workers in violation of the labour laws and the guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment from time to time.”

Image Credits: Google Images

Feature image designed by Saudamini Seth

Sources: The Indian Express, TOI, Hindustan Times

Find the blogger: @chirali_08

This post is tagged under: Amazon warehouse worker, wages, targets, toilet breaks, Amazon toilet breaks, poor wages, india, employees, Amazon warehouse, Amazon warehouse india, amazon, amazon india, Amazon warehouse worker conditions, Amazon warehouse worker treatment

Disclaimer: We do not hold any right, or copyright over any of the images used, these have been taken from Google. In case of credits or removal, the owner may kindly mail us.

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