Labour ministry summons Amazon India on latest firings
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Labour ministry summons Amazon India on latest firings

By Aman Rawat

  • 22 Nov 2022
Labour ministry summons Amazon India on latest firings
Credit: Reuters

The Union Labour Ministry, on Tuesday sent a notice to Amazon India in relation to the voluntary separation program (VSP) it introduced last week to reduce its headcount as part of the ecommerce major’s massive layoff plan.  

The ministry summoned the online retailer on the complaint of Nascent Information Technology Employees Senate (NITES), which in a letter dated 19 November alleged that firings at Amazon India are unethical and illegal, and requested interference.

Amazon India didn’t respond to VCCircle's queries till the time of publishing. 

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“Recently we have received complaints from employees of Amazon that they are being forced to quit the company voluntarily, the company has sent a detailed Voluntary Separation Program (VSP) as well,” NITES president Harpreet Singh Saluja said, adding that the livelihood of 1000s has now been made vulnerable.

Amazon employs approximately 100,000 workers in the country. 

Explaining how the layoffs were unethical and illegal,  as per procedures laid down under Industrial Dispute Act, the employer cannot, without prior permission from the appropriate government, lay off an employee featuring on the muster rolls of the establishment.

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“An employee who has served for at least a year of continuous service cannot be retrenched unless served a notice three months in advance and prior permission from the appropriate government.”

“The said application has to be submitted by the employer along with the reasons for such retrenchment, and shall be taken into consideration and scrutinized through an inquiry. However, Amazon has clearly violated the existing provisions of Indian labour laws, which aim at protecting worker's rights,” he noted. 

Deputy chief labour commissioner A Anjanappa has ordered Smitha Sharma, senior manager public policy at Amazon, to hold a discussion on 23 November in relation to the VRS scheme pointed out by NITES.  

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Internal documents surfaced last week showed that Amazon India is sending out “voluntary severance” offers to some of its employees in various divisions, including human resources and employee services. 

The latest firings at Amazon’s Indian offices are part of the ecommerce giant’s broader plan to slash its headcount by 10,000 globally, with job cuts expected across several verticals. 

Amazon is mulling job cuts in its devices organization, which runs ‘Alexa’ gadgets as well as home security cameras. The company is also firing employees in its human resources and retail divisions.

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