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12 May 2017

Layoffs in IT sector- Time for trade unions?

IT and trade union, unlikely but may work

The recent layoffs within the IT industry have made employees wary of their job security and now a faction of the disgruntled workers have filed a petition against the IT firms via The Forum for IT employees (FITE).

This has led to an intense debate concerning, whether trade unions are the much-needed solution to clear out the impasse or not.

Here's all about it.

In context

IT and trade union, unlikely but may work
What led to the debate?


What led to the debate?

The debate stemmed from a petition, which was filed by FITE to the state governments against Cognizant, alleging that the IT firm was forcing its employees to resign against their own will.

FITE believes that the government should intervene immediately thus sparking the debate if there is a need for a proper trade union to take care employees' interests in the IT sector.

Trade unions

The industry policy as of now

Although there are bodies to address IT employees' grievances, still the industry lacks a trade union system to safeguard its interests.

The IT brass believes that in order to be at par with its global counterparts it can't afford to go through labor regulation hiccups, which is only going to slow their work pace and will make the industry less competitive and vulnerable.

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Why is there a need for an IT trade union?


Why is there a need for an IT trade union?

In the light of the recent layoffs, many believe that a trade union should be formed, as the practice of sacking an employee through arbitrary performance reviews is biased and, therefore, discriminating.

Relying blindly on IT players, without any trade union to counter-check its whims-based policies, puts wages and job stability at jeopardy, which can no longer be undermined.


The word of law on this matter

There are no restrictions to form trade unions in terms of Indian IT sector related laws.

Following the massive layoff by TCS in the previous year, the Tamil Nadu government had cited that the IT/ITES sector is protected by the Industrial Disputes Act and the Central government has also asked state governments to intervene if there is any violation of labor laws.

Chances are slim of it becoming a reality

IT sector

Chances are slim of it becoming a reality

In the IT sector, attrition rates are high and a typical IT employee usually doesn't stick with a firm for more than a few years.

Chances are that those, involved with an IT-based trade union, will be frowned upon as other employers might be reluctant to hire such a candidate.

Those, in the middle management, may keep their mouth mum in hopes of promotion.


An interesting proposition but not a feasible one

While a trade union may hugely benefit the IT employees in the situation at hand, but the industry dynamics would make it difficult for a trade union to function or safeguard employees' interests.

To come out of this vicious circle and form a trade union may look apt at the moment but sustaining it through the prevalent conditions is challenging, to say the least.

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