Amazon to face off with workers, government on staff reduction in India

As Amazon considers layoffs around the world, it is headed for a showdown between workers and government representatives over India’s hotly contested Voluntary Separation Program (VSP).

Workers say the program is not truly voluntary and is a way of implementing layoffs without going through a legally sanctioned process. None of the employees have been fired and said they joined the VSP voluntarily.

The company has not disclosed how many employees have recently left through VSP.

Meanwhile, the Pune Labor Commission convened representatives from Amazon India and the Pune-based New Senate for Information Technology Employees (NITES) for a joint meeting on 17 January. Pune is the largest municipality in Maharashtra. , and the country’s main IT hub.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss “worker layoffs,” according to a statement issued by Pune District Assistant Labor Commissioner GS Shinde. The notice directs representatives of Amazon and NITES to attend with the necessary documents, records and powers of attorney.

NITES filed a complaint with the government’s labor department on November 19, stating that recent employee departures were illegal. The association had received complaints from more than 60 of his Pune-based Amazon employees regarding VSP.

“In accordance with procedures established under the Labor Disputes Act, an employer may, without prior authorization from the appropriate government, [agency]NITES President Harpreet Singh Saluja said:

He added that workers who have been working continuously for at least one year cannot be dismissed without three months’ notice and prior authorization from the appropriate government agency.

Before laying off an employee, an employer must submit an application with the reason for the layoff to the appropriate government authority. NITES alleges that Amazon has not filed any such application, violating labor laws.

Labor union says Amazon violated labor laws

“Amazon is in clear violation of existing provisions of the Indian labor law aimed at protecting workers’ rights. This violates existing labor laws,” Salja said.

“We will continue to fight for the rights of injured employees who have been unethically forced to adopt a voluntary turnover policy and who have been unlawfully dismissed,” he added.

If the VSP program is deemed illegal, NITES hopes Amazon will rehire employees who left the company through the program, Saluja said.

“When the VSP email arrived, no clear information was provided as to how this would affect employees. Either they were forced to choose, or they chose under pressure.

In November, Amazon India employees were sent a VSP plan and encouraged to voluntarily resign. A retired employee receives 22 weeks of base salary plus her VSP benefits, which include 1 week of base salary for every 6 months of service, and 6 months of medical coverage.

Employees working at Amazon’s Experience and Technology teams at L1-L7 levels (all levels of the company up to the most senior executives) have received notification that they are eligible for the VSP program.

As soon as the VSP was launched in November, NITES filed a complaint with representatives of the local Labor Relations Commission and the Ministry of Labor of the central government that the VSP was being forced on employees as a means of dismissing people. rice field. In a public hearing with the central government’s Ministry of Labor in Bangalore on November 23, Amazon said it did not dismiss employees involuntarily, but rather employees who voluntarily opted into the separation program by accepting a severance package. He said he only laid off employees.

Amazon also never forced employees to volunteer for the program, instead advising them to use their own discretion.

However, NITES representatives were unable to attend the meeting due to late notice. After that meeting, government representatives agreed that the local labor commission would hold public hearings again with both Amazon and worker representatives to make a decision on the legality of VSP employee termination. Under Indian law, either state or central government agencies can decide on worker grievances.

Amazon faces worker riots

The latest hearings in India come at a time Amazon faces worker unrest elsewhere. Last week, his GMB union-affiliated employees in the UK at Amazon’s Coventry warehouse announced they would go on strike on January 25 and walk away as part of the fight for better wages.

Meanwhile, Amazon confirmed last week that the bulk of the layoffs will take place later this month, laying off more than 18,000 total employees worldwide. Several teams are affected, but the bulk of the job cuts will be in Amazon Stores and the People, Experience, and Technology (PXT) organization.

Amazon has not identified any affected regions. Amazon plans to communicate with affected employees (and European employee representative bodies, if applicable) from January 18th.

18,000 employees represent approximately 5.5% of Amazon’s corporate staff and approximately 1.2% of Amazon’s 1.5 million employees, including global fulfillment centers and hourly workers. This is the largest layoff for the company.

Amazon, like many other tech companies, faces economic headwinds. The company’s business and cloud services division, Amazon Web Services (AWS) — the company’s most profitable business unit — is showing signs of slowing growth, with revenue growth in the quarter ending September down from a year earlier. 33% compared to 27.5% over the same period. Each grew 36.5%% year-on-year in the previous quarter.

Other tech sector giants have also experienced slowing growth, leading to massive layoffs across the industry.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

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