The clout enjoyed by trade unions, which could once influence management decisions for workers and also successfully create roadblocks if demands were not met, is slowly reducing.
Forum for IT Employees (FITE), a trade union representing IT sector employees, is slowly taking steps to fight on behalf of individuals who have been laid off by companies. While the union's members run into a few hundreds only, it is still early days for mass movement, according to human resource officials.
FITE, which as per its website, has representation from employees in 50 companies in the IT/ITeS sectors, is looking to build its member base. FITE’s Vice President Vasumathi told Moneycontrol that once they have sufficient members, they will look at regular interactions with employers to have an employee-friendly workplace.
The forum has said that the employees of IT/ITeS sector have been a significant contributor to India’s growth history. “Though we are connected via social networks, we are ‘individuals’ while facing breach of our work rights and oppression by corporates,” it added. This forum is run by a collective of IT professionals from different IT/ITeS companies.
On one hand, while large-scale layoffs across IT companies have led to a scramble for new jobs, many of the fired employees are of the view that the manner in which they were let go has been unjust.
With respect to the layoffs at Cognizant, in the conciliation meeting that happened in Chennai which was chaired by Tamil Nadu Joint Commissioner of Labor Ravishankar, members and representatives from FITE explained the concerns of IT employees with regards to the ongoing layoffs.
In a press statement, FITE said that the Cognizant management was represented by 4 people headed by Dharmaraj & Thenmozhi, AVP, HR Department, Chennai. FITE said that it submitted supporting documents regarding the issues faced by employees. "Thenmozhi of Cognizant requested time to go through the documents and said if there had been any mistakes from their side they will reconsider the terminations,” said FITE.
Overall, the clout enjoyed by trade unions, which could once influence management decisions for workers and also successfully create roadblocks if demands were not met, is slowly reducing. With younger people joining the workforce each year and overall compensation structures seeing an improvement, trade union activities have come down.
In this scenario, human resource experts are of the view that this is the right time to engage in skill-building activity. A senior human resource official at a mid-size IT firm said that unlike factory labourers who have been facing harsh conditions, IT employees are up against a different issue.
“This situation has got to do with individual company positions and stress on their books. Unions can only achieve limited success in this scenario,” he added.
Some governments like the one in Karnataka have also barred unions from being formed for sectors like IT. FITE is looking to take this up with the legal authorities to look for a solution.Rituparna Chakraborty, Executive Vice President, TeamLease Services said it is important to be constructive in this situation and focus on the areas that can re-skill themselves in. “They could get together and find out what skills are needed and help people equip themselves better. This will be far more productive and beneficial for the entire sector,” she added.