“With deep regret, we inform you that…your continued employment is not warranted. We would be relieving you from your employment from the 30th day of this letter.”
This ‘ pink slip’ received by hundreds of software professionals working for IT giant Tata Consultancy Services in the past three weeks has kindled an urge in IT employees across the country to unionise. The alleged move by TCS to retrench a sizeable number of its more than three lakh employees has forced techies to raise their collective voice.
Associations of IT professionals are being formed secretly in many units of the TCS as well as other major IT companies. They fear that if the TCS lay-off succeeds, other companies would copy it.
Most IT professionals considered it infra dig to unionise. “But, the TCS shock has opened the eyes of the IT professionals who have traditionally been reluctant to join the trade union movement,” AD Jayan, General Secretary of CITU-linked Association of IT Employees (AITE), told BusinessLine. “Faced with retrenchment, IT professionals are now discovering the virtues of unionising.”
Bharathi Dasan of the Chennai-based Forum for IT Employees (FITE) said the TCS was now on a drive to lay off more than 25,000 IT employees who have eight-to-twenty years’ experience in the company. In place of these experienced persons, the company was planning to hire fresh hands. “This is estimated to save the company around ₹80,000 crores because young recruits will have to be paid less,” he claimed. Across the country, the TCS has served notice on close to 4,000 employees so far. Dasan, who coordinates resistance to the retrenchment at TCS, Kochi, said FITE was less than a fortnight old, but had already launched branches in several TCS units.
IT professionals were now rushing to join in, trade union leaders report. Inspired by the TCS episode, the Congress-linked INTUC and the CPI-linked AITUC are also bidding to make their presence felt in IT companies. Jayan said the work culture in the IT-ITES companies was such that there was little time and attitude for networking. This made it easier for managements to sack employees as there was no collective action. “In many cases, the management would informally tell an IT employee that his performance is poor and hence he should consider leaving. The employee, who doesn’t want others to know that his professional competency is low, simply puts in his papers,” Jayan noted.
He said the TCS experience had encouraged IT professionals to float trade unions, though many of them were doing it covertly.