Saudi Arabia said on Thursday it was investigating reports of grim conditions for migrant workers at Amazon warehouses in the kingdom, denouncing all labour abuse and exploitation as “unacceptable”.
The human resources and social development ministry said in a statement to AFP that the investigation began before Amnesty International this week reported that Amazon workers in Saudi Arabia had suffered from poor living conditions, on-the-job safety risks and wage theft.
“Any form of labour abuse or exploitation is unacceptable and is comprehensively investigated by the relevant Saudi authorities,” the statement said.
“The distressing reports outlined in this case are already the subject of an ongoing investigation.”
The Amnesty report published on Tuesday drew from the accounts of 22 men who had worked in warehouses in Riyadh or the Red Sea city of Jeddah going back to 2021.
The London-based human rights group accused recruitment agents and two labour supply companies of deceiving migrant workers who thought they would be employed directly by Amazon and took out steep loans to pay recruitment fees.
Thursday’s statement said Saudi authorities had “taken robust measures to combat any form of human trafficking on an international level”, including by ratifying the International Labour Organisation protocol against forced labour.
The kingdom “has also put in place comprehensive legislation and policies to prevent, investigate, and prosecute trafficking offences”, the statement said, noting that recruitment agents and private employers “must adhere to clear and strongly enforced laws to ensure the fair treatment and welfare of all employees”.
Amazon told AFP this week that the company was working with “our third-party vendor” to ensure that conditions improve and that workers are repaid “any unpaid wages or worker-paid recruitment fees” and provided with “clean and safe accommodations”.__The Kahleej Times