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Labour Ministry to Probe ‘Mass Resignations’ at Amazon

The enquiry is to determine whether the recent spate of resignations at the e-commerce giant violates labour laws or were part of terms of service.
Labour Ministry to Probe ‘Mass Resignations’ at Amazon

Image Courtesy: PTI

New Delhi: The Union labour ministry will set up an inquiry to determine whether the recent spate of resignations at Amazon India constituted layoffs that violate labour laws or terms of service, according to people aware of the development, according to a report in the Hindustan Times,

The ministry reportedly sent a notice to Amazon India last week after receiving a complaint of mass layoffs in violation of laws made to labour minister Bhupender Yadav by the Nascent Information Technology Employees’ Senate (NITES), a collective of IT professionals that has over 18,000 members.

In response to this notice, Amazon said that the employees were not laid off, but some staff resigned voluntarily after accepting the e-commerce firm’s “voluntary separation programme”.

The company was reportedly “pulled up” by the ministry due to the mass layoffs at Amazon. However, NITES had told the media that it was not called as part of the talks despite flagging the issue and being a complainant.

According to the HT report, the company in its internal communication to employees had stated that those who do not opt for the voluntary separation programme will be retrenched without any benefits under a “workforce optimisation programme”, according to Harpreet Singh Saluja, president of NITES, which has alleged violation of labour laws.

Amazon has planned to lay off approximately 10,000 people in corporate and technology jobs globally, starting last week, in what would be the largest job cuts in the company’s history, according to reports. The resignations at Amazon India are being seen as a part of the e-commerce giant’s global retrenchments. As per the latest updates, these layoffs are expected to continue till next year. 

Amazon representatives appeared before the deputy chief labour commissioner of the Union labour ministry in Bengaluru on Wednesday and submitted their version denying the allegations, according to people briefed on the matter.

According to a report in the Economic Times, Amazon India has maintained that it reviews worker strength across verticals every year to see if it requires any realignment according to the changing environment and this year too, the company was making some adjustments in light of the emerging global economic situation. An employee separation scheme was part of this process.

Company executives, according to sources, told the labour authorities that workers were at liberty to choose or reject the scheme and that those accepting it would get a fair severance package. They also told the authorities that the company never asked or forced its employees to put in their papers, but advised them to use their own discretion. The executives also said that the company was offering an extended window to employees in case they chose to reconsider their decision.

Recently, the US ecommerce giant also announced that it was shutting down its food delivery services in India.

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