‘Kill us or send us home’: Workers at Amazon in Saudi Arabia say recruiters exploited them
Workers at Amazon’s warehouse in Saudi Arabia say they have been subject to exploitation by recruiters, some of whom demanded money for obtaining a job, and that they feel abandoned by the company.
The Guardian has spoken to nine current and former Amazon employees in Saudi Arabia, as well as the families of three further workers, all of whom said that recruiters have promised prospective staff jobs in exchange for payment.
The workers said they felt vulnerable during their employment at Amazon, and that they felt unable to object to exploitative conditions because they did not have access to a work permit.
They claimed that workers who wanted to change jobs were threatened with retaliation from their employers – including loss of housing and loss of their job – and that Amazon had failed to properly investigate or take action.
The workers also said their living and working conditions were poor, with cramped housing and long working days – often in excess of 12 hours. They said that they had been prevented from travelling back home to visit their families, and had been denied paid holiday. Others reported having had to wait a long time to be paid, with some being forced to seek loans from their families in the interim.
The workers said that despite their pleas for help, Amazon had failed to act on their complaints and had not taken any steps to protect them. Instead, they said they were told that the only options available to them were to keep working at Amazon, or to leave.
“They said, ‘kill us or send us home’,” one former employee said.
The Guardian has contacted Amazon for comment but has not received a response.