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The Pune Labour Commissioner’s office has sent a notice to Amazon, summoning the e-commerce major on 17 January in connection with its voluntary separation program (VSP) introduced a couple of months ago to reduce its headcount.

The labour office has called for a meeting following the complaint of Nascent Information Technology Employees Senate (NITES), a welfare organisation for IT and its related sector employees in India.

Amazon and union representatives have to be present at the commissioner’s office on the day at 3 pm, when it will take necessary action following an enquiry on “unethical and illegal" layoffs at the online retailer.

The firm employs approximately 1,00,000 workers in the country. The latest plan to cut headcount at Amazon’s Indian offices are part of the e-commerce giant’s broader plan to slash its headcount by 18,000 globally,

Amazon India didn’t respond to VCCircle's queries till the time of publishing.

In November 2022, Amazon issued a VSP offer to its employees, which allowed employees to resign voluntarily from employment in exchange for the specific severance benefits. These included 22 weeks base pay, one-week base salary for every six months of services (up to a maximum of 20 weeks) among other benefits.

If the employees did not apply for VSP, they could “ be included in workforce optimization (if any) announced by Amazon," the online retailer had said.

Amazon said it has the right to approve or deny employee participation in the program, allowing it to let go off some people, while retaining others.

“Livelihood of 1000s of employees and their families has now been made vulnerable," Harpreet Singh Saluja, President, NITES, said in a statement.

As per procedures laid down under Industrial Dispute Act, the employer cannot, without prior permission from the appropriate government, layoff an employee featuring on the muster rolls of the establishment.

“Amazon has clearly violated the existing provisions of Indian labour laws, which aim at protecting the worker’s right. The voluntary separation policy implemented was never submitted to the Labour Ministry for review which is a violation of existing Labour laws," Saluja added.

The labour ministry in November has also sent a notice to Amazon India in relation to VSP.

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