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How job loss, insecurity are driving IT professionals towards labour unions

Source | Hindustan  |  BY:Snigdha Poonam 

Until a few years ago, not many could have believed that IT workers in India’s Silicon Valley would ever need to visit the Labour Commissioner’s office in central Bengaluru. But today, software professionals with employment-related grievances are regular visitors here.

They dress alike (jeans, T-shirt, backpack), stand in a huddle and look around nervously. Sunil Kumar, a 38-year-old software developer with nine years of experience didn’t know a thing about workers’ rights until 24 April.

Three days after he was promoted as “project manager” at Tech Mahindra, he “got a call from his HR manager informing me that the company didn’t have any project that required my skills. I was told it was in my best interest to resign.”

  • On 20 August, 200 software professionals in Bengaluru formed India’s newest trade union for IT industry, called Karnataka State IT/ITeS Employees Union.
  • In Bengaluru, FITE, which has 3,000 members, has filed 20 petitions at the labour commission challenging “forced terminations”.
  • In Chennai, NDLF-IT, which has 1,000 members, has filed a petition at the labour commission on behalf of 75 Wipro employees.
  • 1,600 petitions have been filed so far at Hyderabad’s labour commission by various unions.
  • In March, a labour court in Hyderabad reversed the forced resignations of eight employees of Cognizant and ordered the company to give them another chance.

Like dozens of his colleagues who had faced a similar fate recently, Kumar reached out to the local unit of the Forum for IT Employees (FITE), a union mobilising employees in IT hubs such as Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune against “forceful resignations” and “unfair terminations”.


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