Amazon warehouse workers complain of harsh conditions | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Amazon warehouse workers complain of harsh conditions

By, New Delhi
Jun 07, 2024 10:34 AM IST

Amazon workers in India endure extreme heat, lack of breaks, and safety concerns. They demand better conditions as temperatures reach 50°C.

Amazon workers in India are facing distressing conditions inside warehouses amidst a severe ongoing heatwave that has sent temperatures reaching up to 50°C in some areas. Thousands of workers across Amazon warehouses in the country are demanding better working conditions.

Thousands of workers across Amazon warehouses in the country are demanding better working conditions.
Thousands of workers across Amazon warehouses in the country are demanding better working conditions.

Manju Goel, leader of the association in Haryana’s Manesar, said there was no ventilation or cooling, making conditions unbearable. She said the roughly 2,000 workers in her warehouse face oppressive conditions every day, standing for 10 hours straight with no seating for a meagre monthly salary of around 10,000 rupees.

“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,” Goel said.

Another worker, 25-year-old Neha, said waking up at 5 am, working 10-12 hours, and facing strenuous tasks without proper rest has become the norm. Some workers have to walk up to 25 kilometres per day. Neha said managers track their idle time and that even momentary breaks invite scrutiny.

Workers also criticised Amazon’s strict attendance policy. “If we miss a day due to health reasons or family emergencies, our IDs are blocked, impacting our livelihoods,” one worker said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.

A labour ministry spokesperson said they were unaware of the matter but would look into it.

An Amazon spokesperson did not respond to the specific allegations but stated: “Safety and wellbeing of our associates is of utmost priority for us. With several parts of the country witnessing significant heat due to high temperatures along with humidity, a ‘heat stress prevention’ program has been developed for associates in our buildings and out on the road making customer deliveries. Some of the measures include enhanced ventilation and air conditioning inside our buildings, availability of Oral rehydration solutions for all associates, and education and awareness campaigns across different channels of communication for associates.”

Safety concerns were highlighted, with workers handling heavy packages without proper equipment like gloves. Neha said several workers carrying heavy equipment have fainted in the heat, yet are only given a paracetamol and told to get back to work within five minutes.

Amazon India Workers Association convenor Dharmendra Kumar said the heat wave has exacerbated conditions, leading workers to unionise to voice demands. Kumar alleged that despite complaints to Amazon and the labour ministry, no action has been taken.

“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,” Kumar said. He added that workers are under constant pressure to meet targets and strictly told not to take breaks.

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