Source| indianexpress.com | BY: Partha Sarathi Biswas
Software professionals and labour union activities have, so far, remained poles apart. But the recent spate of layoffs in the industry has compelled IT professionals to look at the possibility of forming a union. The Forum for IT Employees (FITE), an organisation which has taken up the legal route to fight layoffs in cities like Bengaluru and Chennai, is all set to work towards the formation of a formal union in Pune soon.
Pune’s first brush with trade union activism in the IT sector had taken place a few years ago, when FITE had helped TCS employees approach the Bombay High Court and the labour commissioner’s office, in case of lay-offs. FITE has, since then, established a Pune unit.
As layoffs have again started to make news, the momentum to form a formal union has gathered steam. Vinod, a member of FITE’s Pune chapter, said the local unit has been receiving a lot of calls, and it has also witnessed a sudden spike in registrations on the FITE’s official website. “On an average, we get around 200-300 calls per day from Pune,” he said.
IT employees would be considered as skilled labour during the formation of the union, said Vinod. Asked if the current legal framework allowed for the formation of unions by IT employees, Vinod replied in the affirmative. “Multiple judgments, delivered by various high courts, have upheld our stance. In many cases, the high courts have overturned the illegal retrenchment of employees,” he said.
A formal union was needed to organise the sector and help employees fight layoffs better, said Vinod. “We have to form a committee which will steer the unions. We are going to start training for the same from next week,” he said. Sub-groups will also be formed to look into specific issues pertaining to the union, said Vinod, adding that work for the formal registration of the union could take place in the next three months.