x Help us stop Amazon's grueling working conditions in India!

National Human Rights Commission of India: Reports at Amazon warehouse potentially “raise a serious issue of human rights of the workers”


National Human Rights Commission of India: Reports at Amazon warehouse potentially “raise a serious issue of human rights of the workers”

The National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) is taking action after Amazon workers publicized grueling working conditions that could violate their human rights. The commission’s suo motu cognizance comes after media reports of Amazon management at its Manesar, Haryana, warehouse making a 24-year-old worker pledge to not take toilet or water breaks during a record-breaking heat wave in May.

The NHRC said in a statement:

“The Commission has observed that the contents of the news report, if true, raise a serious issue of human rights of the workers in violation of the labour laws and the guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment from time to time.”

Suo moto refers to an action taken by a court or agency on its own accord, without a complaint being filed. The NHRC requested that the Secretary of the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment provide additional information within the next week.

Rajendra Acharya, Regional Secretary of UNI Global Union in Asia & Pacific, stated, “The conditions faced by Amazon warehouse workers in India are unacceptable. We demand that Amazon and other employers take immediate action to ensure the safety and well-being of their workers. This situation underscores the urgent need for comprehensive labour protections and the enforcement of existing laws to safeguard workers from extreme heat.” He added, “We commend the NHRC for taking this action. It is a critical step towards holding employers accountable and improving workplace conditions.”

The Amazon India Workers Association (AIWA), supported by UNI Global Union, has urged the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to take immediate measures to safeguard warehouse workers in response to escalating heatwaves. Northern and Western India have been severely affected, with April 2024 recording the highest temperatures since 1901. On May 27, Delhi experienced a record-breaking temperature of 49 degrees Celsius, surpassing the previous high of 45.6 degrees set in 1941, prompting warnings from the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).

Ravish, an Amazon warehouse worker and AIWA member, reported that workers are enduring unbearable heat in the warehouses. Female workers often seek respite in washrooms due to inadequate temperature control in the facilities. On May 28, temperatures in the dock area of the Amazon warehouse were recorded at 31 degrees Celsius, the canteen at 32 degrees, and the stow section at 34.2 degrees.

Pooja, another Amazon warehouse worker and AIWA member, claimed that workers were forced to take an oath to meet targets without breaks for water or washrooms, even under intense heat.

AIWA Convener Dharmendra Kumar emphasized the unprecedented heatwave impacts: “India is experiencing its hottest year on record. The disaster authorities must declare this a disaster and take immediate and long-term measures to protect workers’ health and livelihoods.”

Kamal Kumar Niyogi, Legal Advisor to AIWA, referenced the Factories Act, 1948, stating that employers are required to provide adequate seating for workers who must stand for long periods.

Amazon has faced similar scrutiny regarding labour conditions in other countries. In the United States, the company has been criticized for its high injury rates and inadequate response to worker safety concerns. In Europe, Amazon has been fined and investigated for poor working conditions and union-busting activities. These global issues highlight a pattern of neglecting worker welfare that extends beyond India.

Considering these severe conditions, it is vital to acknowledge that climate change greatly contributes to the growing frequency and intensity of such heatwaves. Scientists have warned that without significant global efforts to mitigate climate change, extreme weather events, including heatwaves, will become more common and severe. This trend underscores the urgent need for both immediate action to protect workers and long-term strategies to address the root causes of climate change.


UNI Amazon Global Union Alliance


UNI Asia & Pacific