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Pune labour commissioner’s office summons Amazon over layoffs

By Malvika Maloo

  • 12 Jan 2023
Pune labour commissioner’s office summons Amazon over layoffs
Credit: Reuters

Pune’s labour commissioner office has summoned Amazon next Tuesday on the voluntary separation program (VSP) it had introduced a couple of months back to reduce headcount. 

The labour office has called for a meeting with the e-commerce company following a complaint by Nascent Information Technology Employees Senate (NITES), a welfare organisation for IT and its related sector employees in India. 

The notice issued requires Amazon and union representatives to be present at the commissioner’s office on January 17 at 3 pm, when it will take necessary action following an enquiry on “unethical and illegal” layoffs at the online retailer.  

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The firm employs approximately 1,00,000 workers in the country. The latest plan to cut headcount at Amazon’s Indian offices are part of the ecommerce giant’s broader plan to slash its headcount by 18,000 globally,  

Amazon India didn’t respond to VCCircle's queries till publishing of this report.  

In November last, Amazon issued a VSP offer to its employees, which allowed employees to resign voluntarily from employment in exchange for the specific severance benefits. These included 22 weeks base pay, one week base salary for every six months of services (up to a maximum of 20 weeks) among others.  

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If the employees did not apply for VSP, they could “be included in workforce optimization (if any) announced by Amazon,” the online retailer had said. 

Amazon said it has the right to approve or deny employee participation in the program, allowing it to let go off some people, while retaining others.  

“Livelihood of 1000s of employees and their families has now been made vulnerable,” Harpreet Singh Saluja, President, NITES, said in a statement.  

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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.   

“Amazon has clearly violated the existing provisions of Indian labour laws, which aim at protecting the worker’s right. The voluntary separation policy implemented was never submitted to the labour ministry for review which is a violation of existing labour laws,” Saluja added.  

The union labour ministry had also sent a notice to Amazon India in relation to VSP.

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