Are Employees Deadwood? – “Apologize Mr. Raj Mehta!”

The following letter, taking strong exception to the statement by Mr. Raj Mehta of Cognizant regarding employees, layoffs, terminations and job losses,  is sent by NDLF IT Employees Wing to

  1. Mr. Raj Mehta, President of Cognizant,
  2. Labour Commissioner and Joint Labour Commissioner
  3. Labour Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu
  4. Chief Justice of Madras High Court

(the memes are taken from NDLF IT Employees Wing facebook page)

Sub: Objecting to Terminations, Forced Resignations and Layoffs – Mr. Raj Mehta’s statement reg
Ref : Cognizant to trim top deck to make room for juniors

Mr. Raj Mehta

Mr. Raj Mehta

We are pleased to introduce ourselves as NDLF IT Employees Wing which is a genuine trade union registered under Trade Union Act 1926, representing the IT employees of both national and global organizations.

We are aware that M/S Congnizant Technology Solutions (CTS) have an annual turn of over US$ 14 billion with operating margin of US$ 2.4 billion and after tax profit of $1.5 billion (year 2017).

We understand that the workmen (employees) of CTS are not given an avenue to represent their grievances and get them resolved. The internal ombudsman system provided by the management does not effectively carry out this function.

In 2017, many companies including yours, resorted to forced resignations, terminations, threatening employees to resign, creating unfair working conditions and other unfair labour practices. Our union took up the matter and obtained an order from the Tamil Nadu government regarding this issue.

Based on that the Joint Commissioner of Labour, Chennai Mr. Ravishankar conducted a conciliation meeting at his office in 6th floor of Labour Welfare Board Building, D.M.S Compound, Chennai – 6 on 28-08-2017 at 11 am.

Our union participated in the meeting. Representatives from TCS, Wipro, Infosys, IBM and your company also attended the meeting. In the meeting, the JCL advised that the managements shall not threaten employees or dismiss employees, shall maintain smooth working conditions, and harmonious industrial relations. Every one who attended the meeting assured the authority that they will abide by the advice.

Contrary to that assurance given to the authority, in August this year, Mr. Raj Mehta, President of Cognizant Technology issued a statement that

We want to weed out the deadwood higher up in the pyramid so that juniors can grow”.

He also stated that “This one is really targeted towards the senior end of the pyramid. It is not voluntary, this is more involuntary. We are trying to cleanup the higher end of the pyramid and allow our associates to grow ”.

The number of senior employees targeted is 200 as per the company spokesperson as reported by Economic Times on August 3, 2018.

This statement of Mr. Raj Mehta is spread in media with the ill intention of making majority of employees to fear that hire and fire is legal. Human resource officers hold individual meetings with employees and force them to submit self-resignation. Some of the employees fall prey to the above mentioned management tactics and submit self-resignation with this deadwood statement in open media in mind.

More than 2,000 employees have been forced out of the company in this manner including many of your senior employees with the designation band of SD+ to SM levels to resign, despite these workers having rendered continuous service for long years. These layoffs/forced resignations/terminations are projected by your company as that of employees voluntarily leaving the company as if they want to throw away an annual salary around Rs 10 lakh and give up their standard of living.

Retrenchment of 200 employees is later confirmed by Economic Times vide report dated 11 Oct 2018. The actual number of employees sent out by this management tactics is many times the count of 200 projected to outside world. The data is said to be 20% attrition in quarter ended in June 2018. As per newspaper report on Oct 31, 2018, attrition is still higher at 22% in quarter ending September. The CFO quoted voluntary attrition and shortage of talent as reason for this attrition.

We already brought this issue to your attention vide letter dated October 15, 2018. However, you have not issued any clarification about your statement and the forced resignations/terminations/layoffs continue in Cognizant Technology Solutions

Mr. Raj Mehta made this statement with the ill intention that the sacked employees should not get a job any where in the world, as everyone knows that such statements from the President of a company carry weight with all future employers.

In reality, even as the company’s turnover and profits keep growing every quarter, employees are sacked from their jobs, their life is ruined, they are not able to pay their home loan EMI and forced to leave their homes, their children are thrown out of school for not paying fees, their families including elderly parents are left without medical care.

The workers engaged in your company work beyond the limit of nominal working hours without spending time with their family considering the organization and its profit. Instead of appreciating the efforts of the employees who made all these possible, Mr. Raj Mehta, the President of the organization made their efforts vain, degraded their value, morals and endangered their livelihood. The said statement is arbitrary, biased and unfair which is against the law of the land.

There is a statistics by Tamil magazine Vikatan that 8200 employees committed suicide in Tamil Nadu alone in last 6 years in IT industry. The primary reason for this issue is illegal termination and its subsequent effect of job loss panic and uncertainty created in job market. Tamil Nadu has been among the top two ranks in the list of states with highest suicide rates for six years now.

As per statistics of India as world suicide capital, suicide was the most common cause of death in both the age groups of 15–29 years and 15–39 years. Most IT employees fall under this age group. Irony is that the majority of 1.8 lakh employees in Cognizant fall under this age group and are vulnerable to the your manipulation tactics which can result in increased suicide rates if not acted upon on time.

Thus, the statement made by the organization head leads to endangering the livelihood of the employees. This will make a major impact in the economy of the country and there will be a grave situation for students who want to pursue their careers in IT Industry. Dreams of many students are shattered with the deadwood statement and layoff exercise by Cognizant.

The employees depend upon this organization, the organization had not valued their contribution. The act of organization has vicitmised not only these 200 employees but for whole organization and its future generation who dreamt to pursue this career. This act explicitly shows that own employees were harassed with ulterior motive to gain profit and the Management threatened its employees to terminate their services illegally at any time and without appreciating their hard work and performance.

Hence, our union demands that the management should

  1. All the terminated/forcefully made to resign employees should be taken back with continuity of service.
  2. They should be given compensation for the period of unlawful terminations
  3. Mr. Raj Mehta who is responsible for this dastardly act should withdraw his statement and apologize by issuing a statement to the media.

We expect you to act on this within 15 days of receipt of this letter and maintain normalcy inside the company and enable the employees to provide much higher productivity gain. Failing which we will take all legal measures and trade union steps (as per Trade Union Act 1926).

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