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Labour rights: Are IT employees ‘workers’?

Source | | Satyanand | Muralidhara

This seemingly inane question is loaded with great implications for the six million-strong IT industry workforce in terms of their access to labour rights. Therefore, it is a question that deserves the attention of and examination by all concerned. Hitherto, Information Technology companies have held a vocal public position that the employees in the industry are highly qualified, highly paid personnel and therefore by implication are not covered by the labour laws, especially the Industrial Disputes Act which provides a legal mechanism for resolving disputes over employment, non-employment and service conditions of workmen.

The IT service industry in India, despite all the tall claims of pushing the frontiers of technology, is unfortunately still stuck in the primitive wage arbitrage model. The bedrock of Indian IT services is the significant wage differential between the wages of a white-collar Indian worker and that of a similar worker in western countries. There is a direct co-relation between revenue growth and the addition of manpower in the outsourcing industry.

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