• | 4:15 pm

Amazon India workers endure intense pressure: survey

Amazon India warehouse and delivery workers endure unsafe conditions while struggling to support themselves with insufficient pay, UNI Global Union survey says

Amazon India workers endure intense pressure: survey
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

Nearly 80% of Amazon warehouse workers and drivers in India believe their work environment is unsafe, a recent survey by a global labor body has found. 

This report, published by UNI Global Union in partnership with the Amazon India Workers Association (AIWA), said Amazon warehouse and delivery workers in India are “enduring intense pressure and unsafe conditions while struggling to support themselves with insufficient pay.”

The report is the first to examine the working conditions of Amazon employees in India, drawing responses from 1,838 participants. It comes in the wake of media reports of dangerous conditions at Amazon during last month’s heatwave in and around New Delhi. 

The global e-commerce firm has, however, denied the claims as “factually incorrect, unsubstantiated, and contradicting what our own employees tell us directly.” 

In a series of reports last month, The Indian Express reported on the abysmal work conditions at an Amazon India warehouse in Haryana’s Manesar. Newslaundry also published a report on difficulties being faced by workers at the warehouse during peak summer in June. 

The reports noted that workers were asked to pledge that they “would not take toilet or water breaks until they met their targets.” 

This prompted the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to issue a notice to the central government over alleged violation of labor laws and the guidelines issued by the Union ministry of labor and employment from time to time.

UNI Global Union survey

Commissioned by UNI Global Union and conducted by Jarrow Insights over 50 days from 2 February to 22 March, the survey used both on-site and digital methods to ensure a representative sample of Amazon’s workforce in India, the labor body said. 

“Indian workers face a troubling reality that mirrors the experiences of Amazon employees worldwide,” said Christy Hoffman, general secretary of UNI Global Union. “It’s clear that for conditions to improve at Amazon in India and beyond, workers need strong unions.”

The survey said four out of five warehouse workers reported that the targets set by Amazon are difficult or very difficult to achieve.

Only 21.3% of warehouse workers and drivers believe the work environment at Amazon is safe, the findings published by UNI Global Union said. 

Additionally, 86.3% of warehouse workers and 28% of drivers said the company does not allow adequate time for them to use the restroom, the report said. 

One in five delivery drivers surveyed reported being injured on the job, it added. 

The report also highlighted Amazon’s inadequate response to workplace injuries. Some workers shared experiences of receiving no assistance after being hurt on the job, while others spoke of health issues due to high work pressure and being denied leave.

“I had an accident, and no one helped me. I spent all my money,” recounted a delivery driver. A warehouse worker added, “due to high work pressure, health issues arise, and we are not even allowed to take leave.”

UNI Global Union had last year conducted similar surveys across eight countries, including the US, Germany, and the United Kingdom, which also reported highly pressurized and harmful working conditions at Amazon. 

The findings from India echo the global alarm workers are raising about inhumane productivity demands, inadequate safety measures and poor compensation, the global body of national and regional trade unions said.

UNI Global Union represents over 20 million workers from more than 150 countries in the services sector. It works to advance workers’ rights and conditions worldwide through organizing, collective action and collective bargaining.

Amazon’s response

In an emailed statement to Press Insider, an Amazon spokesperson said the data being quoted in the survey “appears at best questionable, and at worst deliberately designed to deliver on a specific narrative that certain groups are trying to claim as fact.”

“By contrast, in our most recent internal survey at our Manesar fulfillment center —conducted randomly and anonymously— 87% 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. 

“The reality is, 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 statement added. 

Amazon said it provides fair and competitive wages and regularly reviews its wage structure against industry benchmarks, ensuring adherence to all applicable wage laws across the states where we operate. 

On the issue of unrealistic targets, Amazon said “Like most companies, we have performance expectations for every employee and associate and we measure actual performance against those expectations. When setting those targets, we take into account time in role, experience and the safety and well-being of our employees and associates.”

“We support people who are not performing to the levels expected with dedicated coaching to help them improve. We are confident that our targets are comfortably achievable by the trained associates. We also expand the associate pool whenever we find it necessary,” it said. 

The company added that its associates are entitled to two off-days every week as part of  a 5-day working policy. 

“Additionally, they’re entitled to annual, sick and casual leave, as per state rules, for unplanned situations such as sickness or family emergencies,” the company said.

More Top Stories: