Workers at Amazon’s Saudi Arabia facility say they were lured to the country with promises of high wages and good conditions, only to be exploited and threatened with being sent home or even killed by their recruiters when they requested payment.
According to interviews with 16 current and former employees of the firm, which manufactures consumer electronics such as Fire TV sticks and Echo speakers for Amazon, their Saudi Arabian recruiters offered them salaries far lower than those promised in their contracts, charged illegal fees for housing and transportation, and in some cases threatened to send them back home or even kill them if they complained about their situation.
The workers, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, reported being promised 10-15,000 Saudi Riyals (roughly $2,600-4,000 USD) a month when they signed their contracts. Once they arrived in Saudi Arabia, however, they were informed their salaries would actually range from 5,000-8,000 Riyals a month, less than the minimum wage in the country. For some, this amounts to less than half what was promised in their contracts.
Additionally, the workers report being forced to pay their recruiters illegal fees for housing and transportation. One worker said they had to pay 3,500 Riyals just to reach their place of work and stay in a cramped apartment.
The workers also reported being threatened and verbally abused by their recruiters. “Our recruiters would call us and say, ‘If you don’t accept what we offer, we will kill you here or we will send you back to India’,” one employee said.
Amazon has yet to comment on the allegations, though the company has been under increasing public scrutiny for its record on employee rights in the past year. Workers in warehouses around the world have reported low wages, long hours, and difficult work conditions. It remains to be seen how the company will respond to the allegations of exploitation in Saudi Arabia.