- “I, IT employee named Shyam Sundar”
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My name is Shyam Sundar. I worked with one of the top 5 Indian IT companies. I have around 23 years of experience in IT industry.
I want to start this story from the most recent event. Yes, today [03-08-2020I received termination letter from the company for which I worked for the past 18.5 years. This termination comes as a surprise to me as I did not have any intimation from my company regarding my termination. After 18.5 years of service, I was issued a perfunctory termination letter.
Then, what happened in the recent past?
Last week I had a HR discussion where my HR officer asked me to go on 3 months leave with Loss of pay.
You may ask why?
I am in free pool (bench) for over 2.5 years in the last 3 years of my career. Yes, you heard it right. I am in free pool for 2.5 years from 2017 May. As per company policy, company is asking employees in bench for over 2 months to go on 3 months leave with loss of pay.
As a part of the HR interview, the HR officer asked what you have done in the last 2.5 years? I answered with details of a few technical things which I did in this period. I also mentioned that I have been prevented from joining projects by the management.
I refused to go on leave with loss of pay as I feel this compulsion from the HR is against the law of land. I refused to accept this decision of the company.
Now at the end of the week, I received this termination letter from the company.
Now, as I am out of the organization, I feel this is a good opportunity to explore what I did in this last 3 years period. I am going to write a series of articles about various happenings in my life over the last 3 years.
You may wonder about the title of this series. This is the format used in taking oath of office for constitutional positions like MLA, MP or ministers. I am not a politician but I will be termed “IT employee” as I am in this industry for more than 50% of my life and I feel happy to call myself as an IT employee even after I got terminated from my company.
I have been in association with New Democratic Labor Front (NDLF) which is one of the registered trade unions in India. I served as the president of NDLF – IT Employees Wing for over 2 years in the past.
It started like this.
1. I was targeted as part of layoff in the year 2017 and I fought this layoff threat with the help of NDLF IT Employees Wing. We filed legal disputes against my current employer.
Our legal dispute against my former employers is the first dispute under section 2K of Industrial Disputes Act filed against an IT company in India. This dispute was referred to the labour court by the labour department. Government of Tamilnadu passed a gazetted order to ask labor court to investigate the dispute.
2. We also helped many other IT employees to face layoff threats on behalf of NDLF IT Employees Wing.
3. I have written more than 300 awareness articles which help IT employees to face layoffs.
4. I also talked to more than 1000 IT employees who faced layoff threats and helped in all possible ways for the affected employees. Our union office bearers worked as a team in this challenging task.
I hope that the experience of these 3 years will make an interesting story. I hope that this will help future generation of IT employees to face layoff challenges. That is the reason I decided to start this series. I request people to share this series with their friends which will definitely help many young generation IT employees to have better IT Career
I will start this series with David’s story.
David Praveen is an employee of Wipro Technologies who worked in Hyderabad and got laid off from the company. After being laid off, David attempted bank robbery. I saw this article reported in many leading news magazines.
As per TOI, “he wore a burkha and entered Karur Vysya bank at Manikonda at around 3:30 pm. After entering the branch, he approached the cashier and pulled out a toy gun, threatening to kill the employee if money was not handed over to him. He was also reported to be carrying a dummy bomb and toilet cleaner and threatened people showing it as acid. The suspect beat the cashier Shiva Shankar and robbed Rs 2.5 lakh cash and ran out.
But people followed him and pelted stones at him. David then threatened to hurl the ‘bomb’ at people chasing him, but the unrelenting mob continued to pelt stones at him, causing head injury.
Around 200 meters from the bank, David hid himself behind a car and people surrounded him and pinned him down. Later they handed him over to police. A case of robbery was registered against the accused under Section 392 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) based on a complaint by the branch manager of the bank. Police took David to Hospital and doctors had to put eight stitches to stop bleeding. He told police that till four months ago he worked at Wipro office in Hyderabad as Assistant Manager.”
I saw that David was criticized by many people in the comment section. People wondered how David with this attitude would have served the company and the company was right in terminating David from employment. I also saw that many people crossed this news as funny one as he used a dummy bomb, toilet cleaner as acid and toy gun as pistol. Some others criticized that people are doing this kind of things by seeing popular movies and they should be punished severely to stop such incidents in future
These views affected me and made me sleepless. I know how layoffs affect individual IT employees. If David is doing such an activity within 3 months of being laid off, I could understand the cruelty inflicted on him by the sudden layoff.
We had a chance to talk with David’s friend after this news is published. He mentioned that David was not getting salary for 4 months after he is laid off. He has 2 school going kids. Financial pressure mounted as he was not able to pay his rent and his kids’ school fees. His kids are sent back from school due to nonpayment of fees which created lot of tension in the family. This made David to take such a foolhardy decision.
David is a good guitar player with calm nature as per his friend. His friend mentioned that he feels very bad for his friend who got into this situation.
We wrote an article about David’s real story in our union website This reached 1 lakh users.
Later, our union members Kasirajan and Saravana Guru took this article and other articles related to IT layoffs into Quora forum. They posted these articles to answer queries related to impact of of layoffs in IT sector. These answers reached more than 1.5 million users in Quora.
This gives immense satisfaction to us that we projected the circumstances which led David to such an illegal act. The article made the rest of the world understand what layoff brings to an IT employee’s life.
We did not meet David that time and we also did not know what has happened after his arrest. But we are still satisfied to make his friends and well-wisher understand his side of problem.
We, as union members, feel that is the responsibility as a fellow IT employee to stand on the side of another colleague during their difficult times. We also realize that we could have been more active in reaching out to David and his family and providing help to them.
Having looked at how sudden layoff can wreck the life of an IT employee, we will see more such cases in the coming articles.
But I know what many people will think after reading this first part.
As this part started with my termination letter, many people will say that I myself, being a trade unionist, am not not able to save my job and that Unions are not able to save even their core members.
Then, what unions bring to IT employees?
I understand the above is a very important question to be answered. In the next part, I will share the story of our NDLF leader Palanichamy popularly known as Tholar Palanichamy.
It is an interesting story which starts with victimization by the company, followed by a dance performance in Ayudha Pooja function, then a long court battle which finally got him and his coworkers upto Rs 50 lakhs.
See you in the coming parts.
– Shyam Sundar
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