Workers recruited from India and Bangladesh to work at Amazon warehouses in Saudi Arabia say their rights have been violated and exploited by recruiters.
In many cases, workers say they are forced to work 12-hour shifts with no days off. The workers’ salaries are sometimes delayed or go unpaid. Others report hazardous working conditions and a lack of protective gear.
Many workers say they were promised high salaries, comfortable living conditions, and good job opportunities — only to find themselves stuck in exploitative and unsafe working environments. Workers are threatened with dismissal or deportation if they speak out, which has created an atmosphere of fear and silence.
“Some people don’t get proper food or accommodation. Others get low salaries and [are] asked to work long hours. We are asked to work from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. but they don’t compensate for it. Many of us are having tough times here,” a worker named Rajan, who hails from the Indian state of Punjab, told the Guardian.
Another worker, Aseem from Delhi, said recruiters had promised him a job in a footwear factory in Saudi Arabia. Instead, he found himself working in an Amazon warehouse. “I have been here since March this year and still haven’t been paid a single paisa,” Aseem said.
The head of a labor welfare charity, the Mumbai-based India Workers’ Collective, said these cases demonstrated how migrant workers are vulnerable to exploitation and risk of violation of their rights during recruitment and employment.
“Recruitment agents lure workers to various parts of the world, including the Gulf, and often there is no accountability to anyone. This ultimately leads to exploitation and violation of the workers’ rights,” Shobha Shah said.
In response to the allegations of exploitation, Amazon said it had strict hiring and working policies. The company said it would investigate any reports of workers rights violations and take necessary action if required.