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Nearly 200 IT employees gather in India’s Silicon Valley to form a trade union

Source | : By Monalisa Das

A group of IT and ITeS employees initiated the process on Sunday to form a registered trade union representing the software industry in Karnataka.

Close to 200 people gathered at the YWCA Hall in Koramangala, Bengaluru to take part in the foundation conference. The organisers said that it was an impressive turnout.

The move comes amid reports of large-scale layoffs in the IT sector, diminished employee benefits and alleged exploitation of workers, especially of those in the lower rungs.

Called the Karnataka State IT/ITeS Employees Union or KITU, the union aims to organise employees working in the IT sector in the state, act as a platform where employees can voice their grievances, and provide a medium to interact with employers.

“What is currently happening is that if an employee is facing a problem, they have to fight in their individual capacity and the companies may not listen to them. The trade union will help them negotiate and bargain with the management, and even fight. As a collective, we can put forward our demands before the government,” said Vineeth, who works as a testing lead with MindTree and is the General Secretary of the union.

What better place to start a trade union for IT employees than in India’s Silicon Valley.

Vineeth is also part of the IT Employees Centre, an association that had been working for the rights of IT employees in Bengaluru for the last eight years. The group used to receive a range of complaints from employees including layoffs and those related to maternity leaves.

“The problem was that it was not registered as a union,” he said.

“Without a structured organisation, it was very difficult to move forward. Also, we did not have much legal power. This union can represent employees now,” he added.

Those present at the event also opined that it was high time that there was a union for IT workers.

“As per our Constitution, we have the right to join a union. Today the industry is facing so many challenges –from layoffs to automation. This is the right time to form an organisation,” said Sethumadhavan, a Wipro employee.

Several voices in the past, including Mohandas Pai, have opposed the idea of a union for the IT sector, stating that it will adversely impact the service oriented sector.

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