Amazon to pay $1.9 million to settle claims of human rights abuses of contract workers

Amazon will pay $1.9 million to more than 700 migrant workers to settle claims over human rights abuses following exploitative labor contracts. The affected workers worked in two of the company’s warehouses in Saudi Arabia.

Amazon saying it hired an outside labor rights expert to investigate warehouse conditions. The organization found numerous violations of Amazon’s supply chain standards, including “poor living accommodations, contractual and wage irregularities, and delays in resolving worker complaints.”

This follows a last October that detailed several alleged human rights abuses experienced by those hired to work at Amazon facilities in the region, noting that many of the affected workers were “highly likely to be victims of human trafficking.” The report also suggested that Amazon was aware of the high risk of labor abuse when operating in Saudi Arabia, but still “did not take sufficient steps to prevent such abuses.”

Simultaneous reports from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism offered detailed accounts of the conditions in which these workers allegedly suffered, Investigations found that workers had to pay illegal recruitment fees of up to $2,040 to be hired. This forced migrant workers, many of whom were from Nepal, to take out loans at high interest rates.

Investigators also found that these workers lived in squalid conditions, with one worker saying he lived “in a crowded room with seven other men, crammed with bedbug-infested bunk beds.” The water was said to be salty and not drinkable. Amnesty International echoed these findings, stating that the accommodation “lacked even the most basic facilities”.

The combination of the exorbitant recruitment fees, along with the associated loans, amounted to “human trafficking for labor exploitation as defined by international law and standards,” Amnesty alleged in its report.

Amazon has stated that it has “resolved the most serious concerns” involving the two Saudi warehouses, including an upgrade to the housing. “Our goal is that all our suppliers have management systems that guarantee safe and healthy working conditions; this includes responsible hiring practices,” the company wrote.

It’s worth noting that while that $1.9 million figure seems high, it breaks down to about $2,700 per employee. Amazon made which is equivalent to more than 1.5 billion dollars every day.

Amazon doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to labor. It is regularly particularly in its The company is also rabidly anti-union, as many of these complaints involve Amazon facing multiple ongoing federal investigations into its safety practices, and has been fined by federal safety regulators for

However, the company remains defiant in its efforts to undermine workers’ rights. Amazon claiming the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is unconstitutional, joining Elon Musk’s SpaceX and grocery giant Trader Joe’s. The NLRB is an independent arm of the federal government that enforces American labor law and has been in operation since 1935.

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