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Low Wages, Long Standing Hours, No Rest Areas: A First-Person Account From an Amazon Warehouse

labour
The company monitors our performance obsessively, and if we don’t meet our brutal hourly targets, we face punishment.
Amazon India warehouse workers resting in a locker room during the heatwave. Photo: X/@AiwaInd

My name is Neha. I am a 25-year-old worker at the Amazon warehouse in Manesar, Gurgaon, known as Del 4. My journey with Amazon began in August 2022, packing items for shipping in the outbound department. When I started, I trusted that my hard work would lead to contract renewals and maybe even promotions and raises, but the reality of working conditions quickly overshadowed any optimism I had.

But recent worker organising in India is sparking hope. Here’s my story.

After just six hours of training, I was thrown into a gruelling routine: standing for ten hours straight without a fan and packing 240 items per hour. The work is physically demanding. Continuous standing often leads to dizziness and exhaustion, and injuries are common.

Despite these inhumane conditions, we are expected to keep working at a fast rate, with no accommodations or care for our well-being. The company monitors our performance obsessively, and if we don’t meet our brutal hourly targets, we face punishment.

There are no proper rest areas, forcing us to seek respite in washrooms and locker rooms during breaks, only to be reprimanded if caught. Break times are tightly monitored, adding to our stress. Even a simple trip to the washroom incurs penalties.

In May 2023, amidst a severe heatwave, our desperate pleas for a fan were finally heard, but our warehouse remains boiling hot, as recent reporting shows. After enduring such conditions for a year and a half, I was forced to resign due to denied leave, only to rejoin later under similarly harsh conditions in the inbound department.

This relentless pressure takes a toll on both our physical and mental health. Speaking out or failing to meet the impossible demands often results in termination under vague accusations of contract violations.

Our plight extends beyond physical exhaustion. We are required to book work slots a day in advance, often battling unavailability and network issues. The constant surveillance and pressure to meet targets led to an absurd oath-taking ritual where we pledged to work without breaks or even drinking water.

Despite the backbreaking work, our monthly wage is a mere Rs 10,088. This meagre pay makes it impossible to cover basic living expenses. When we speak out for wages that allow us to support our families, we are again met with retaliation. and no worker is made permanent, regardless of years of service. The management at Del 4 blatantly ignores labour laws and our rights, resulting in numerous legal cases.

In response, the Amazon India Worker Association, of which I am a part, has been fighting for better conditions. Our demands include an eight-hour workday, a minimum salary of Rs 25,000, humane work targets, equal pay for men and women, adherence to labour laws, job security, proper seating arrangements, festival bonuses, and compliance with ILO labour standards.

Our struggle is not just about wages or working hours; it’s about dignity and basic human rights. We demand Amazon and its management to recognise our plight and take immediate action to improve our working conditions. The time for change is now.

Neha works at an Amazon facility in India.

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