Amazon’s last-mile delivery network in Pune has come to a grinding halt after its delivery personnel went on strike on March 16 demanding better pay and insurance cover from the company. Around 20 delivery hubs in the city have been hit due to the strike, delaying deliveries of orders placed on the platform.
“The company is constantly reducing the cut that we make from each delivery,” one delivery person who was protesting against the company told Entrackr requesting anonymity.
“On March 15, Amazon issued a new policy saying that we will earn Rs 10 on delivering small packages and Rs 15 for deliveries made through tempos. Earlier, we used to make Rs 35 on deliveries. The price of petrol is touching Rs 100 and we are finding it very hard to make ends meet,” a second delivery person said.
The delivery personnel are prone to having accidents while they’re out delivering orders “but Amazon doesn’t offer them any insurance cover of any sort,” the first person said. “The company should offer more help to us”.
In essence, the striking delivery people are demanding that their earnings from deliveries be restored to earlier rates and Amazon provide them with a basic health insurance cover.
“We are not going to resume work until our demands are met,” the second delivery personnel said.
“To make ends meet, we sometimes end up working for 15-16 hours in a day. Despite working for that long, we still sometimes can’t put enough food on the table for every member of our family,” the first person said. The second person said that before the lockdowns last year, they were able to make around Rs 22,000 per month but that has now gone down to Rs 12,000.
The second person told Entrackr that the striking delivery personnel were fed up with Amazon’s policies and they had approached Kishore Shinde, a member of the regional political outfit Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. Shinde had contested from the Kothrud assembly seat in Pune in the 2019 state elections unsuccessfully.
He said that Shinde along with the delivery personnel then met Sridhar Gaikwad on March 14 who, as the person said, was Amazon’s territory manager for Pune. However, according to the second person, Gaikwad told them that he was too junior in Amazon’s hierarchy to do anything.
Shinde confirmed the claims made by the delivery personnel to Entrackr. He said that he was currently in Mumbai and claimed to have received a call from Amazon who had assured him that the company won’t decrease the delivery persons’ commission any further.
The delivery personnel who spoke to Entrackr said that Amazon has been pressuring them to carry out know your customer or KYC for Amazon Pay users. And while it has not been made mandatory, a third delivery personnel said that Amazon has threatened that they won’t be given items to deliver if they don’t carry out customer KYCs.
The first and the second person said that more than 8,000 Amazon delivery partners in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad have not delivered a single package in the city since they went on strike. This has resulted in orders piling up at delivery hubs, they said.
Entrackr spoke to a resident of Pune who had recently placed an order via Amazon and she said that the delivery of her order, which was supposed to be done on March 16, has still not been done. “Shipping has been rescheduled and will now be delivered on a different date,” read the message on her Amazon app and a screenshot seen by Entrackr.
When placing an order, we found that Amazon was not delivering to most pin codes in Pune. “The item cannot be shipped to your selected delivery location. Please choose a different delivery location,” Amazon’s app prompted when we selected a pin code in Pune for delivery.
According to the first and second person, since days have passed, the delivery personnel were being forced to come back to work. Managers of the delivery hubs have been telling the striking delivery personnel that they will be fired in case they don’t resume work immediately.
Queries sent to Amazon on the strike and the issues raised by their delivery personnel did not get a specific response, including not acknowledging the strike.
In an email statement, the company said that there have been delays in delivering packages in some parts of Pune and they have informed their customers.
“We place enormous value in having regular conversations with our partners, listening to their feedback and addressing them effectively to improve the experience for their employees and our partner network,” the company said in the statement.
The strike comes as India is preparing social security rules for people in the gig economy — gig workers, platform workers, and aggregators — under wide-ranging labour law. Called the Code on Social Security, 2020, it proposes to offer disability cover, accident insurance, health benefits, among others to gig workers.
However, gig workers have sought more clarity around the funding of these social security schemes.
Update at 7:38 PM, March 19: After the story was published, a source from Amazon told Entrackr that all associates of AMZL (Amazon owned stations) are covered by hospitalisation and accident insurance from their date of joining. Hospitalisation insurance, covers the employee, their spouse and 2 Children, the person said. “Accident Insurance has a coverage amount of INR 5 Lakhs and covers various forms of disability and death due to accidents,” the Amazon source said.
“For associates of our Delivery Service Partners we offer Group accident insurance + group medical insurance. We audit this regularly with our Delivery Service Partners. Amazon covers all the participants of Amazon Flex under a Group Accident policy.The policy provides an accidental death coverage of up to INR 500,000 and a permanent disability coverage up to INR 500,000,” the source added.
This person also said that KYC is optional and associates make extra earning on each KYC.