New Democratic Labour Front is a revolutionary labour union with activities all over Tamil Nadu and Puduchery. The IT Employees Wing of NDLF was started in January 2015.
Forming of IT Employees Wing
TCS had announced the lay-off of 25,000 of its employees, in November 2014. Vinavu.com, the revolutionary political site run by some friends belonging to NDLF’s fraternal organization, covered this issue with posts debunking TCS’s claim of workforce restructuring by removing ‘under-performers’, explaining its true motive of increasing profit by sacrificing its senior employees and calling IT employees to resist this illegal retrenchment by forming an union.
Following this, many IT employees contacted Vinavu through email and phone. It alerted the media. Subsequently, more news and personal experiences were published in it.
Within a month, on 7th January 2015, workers belonging to NDLF working in Gummidipoondi, and Patabiram gathered in the IT corridor, at the Sholinganallur traffic signal, with placards and banners, expressing their solidarity with IT employees and calling them to unionize. Thousands of tracts announcing the ‘true’ town-hall meeting of IT employees were distributed at that time.
We did door-to-door campaign in the residential areas in and around Sholinganallur housing IT employees, distributed more than 10 thousand tracts in buses and electrical trains used by IT employees and campaigned in social media like facebook, whatsapp, etc. We also posted hundreds of posters around IT companies in Chennai. The town-hall meeting became the hot topic in the IT sector, within 3 days of the campaign.
To cap it all, we organized a campaign at the gate of TCS at Siruseri SEZ, on 9th January 2015. Advocates belonging People Right Protection Centre (PRPC)’s and members of NDLF participated in it.
The town-hall meeting was conducted on 10th January 2015, as planned and NDLF – IT Employees Wing was started.
Activities of the IT Union
1. Union membership
Member enrollment activity was intensified by campaigning in residential areas and around the IT companies. Invite to join the Union was distributed in the form of audio shares.
2. Campaign against appraisal system
Campaign against the fraudulent appraisal system was started. Tracts explaining its fraudulent nature were distributed. Posters denouncing it were posted. Internet and Videos were also used in this campaign.
When one of our Union members working in TCS was given an order of salary reduction based on the appraisal rating, a complaint has been lodged at the Labour department and the case is going on.
3. Legal battles
- We arranged for suing TCS by contacting a female employee affected by the lay-off.
- Based on information gathered during the door-to-door campaign at Sholinganallur residential areas, we came to know about the lay-off in Syntel and we campaigned against it.
- We filed a Public Interest Litigation at Chennai High Court to declare if Labour laws are applicable to IT sector, following which the court ordered the Tamilnadu Labour Department to make a decision regarding this. As Tamilnadu government chose to ignore this order, we filed a petition to Labour Dept under RTE act. As the government was still not moved, we sent a reminder with a warning of Contempt of Court case. Now the government confirmed that the labour laws are applicable to IT sector and that IT employees can form union.This news was taken to IT employees in a wide scale. The media was alerted and the news got good media coverage.
- TCS along with its subsidiary named CMC is doing scam training at exorbitant cost promising recruitment at TCS but actually taking them on short term contract with very low consolidated salary which would not even cover the training fees paid by the candidate. We helped an affected employee to complain to the JCL (Joint Commissioner of Labour) and get ‘failure report’ on attempt of mediation between employer and employee which is needed to go to the court.One of the projects in CTS had sent email to its employees to log 9 hours excluding break times in time-sheet. Opposing this we complained to Labour Inspector and the concerned HR had backtracked saying it includes break times.
4. Campaign against Layoffs
We did a campaign with tracts and posters supporting the protesting engineers and condemning L&T Infotech which cheated 1300 engineers recruiting them at their campus but keeping them without giving them job for more a year.
5. Monthly meetings of IT Union members
From July 2016, we are conducting a monthly meeting with our members, in second or third Saturday. Along with the issues in IT sector, we discuss also the issues affect the society as a whole.
- July 2016 Speech on Big-Data, Speech on Union formation, laws, etc by Com. Vijayakumar.
- Aug 2016 Speech on Data-Science, Discussion on imposition of Sanskrit, right of 8 hours work, etc
- Sep 2016 Screening of Sicko, a documentary on privatized health care in US and discussion on it.
- Oct 2016 Screening of Mad City, an English film that exposes the capitalistic media and discussion on it.
- Nov 2016 Discussion of Modi’s stunt of demonetization
- Dec 2016 Discussion on failure of Modi’s demonetization and screening of the documentary ‘Capitalism – a love story’.
- Jan 2017 Discussion on Farming crisis, activities of IT union and screening of Nero’s Guests, a documentary by the well-known journalist Sainath, on the crisis of farmer’s suicide in Maharashtra.
- Mar 2017 Discussion on Trump’s visa policy and issues faced by Indian IT sector, Neduvasal protest, political rights, etc.
- Apr 2017 Discussion on understanding the roots of Farmers distress in Tamil Nadu. how to combat CTS Layoff? ‘Democracy’ – R K Nagar Election, ADMK factions and IT Raids
We call upon all IT professions to join NDLF IT Employees Wing.