Unions Essential for Healthy Business

Shyam Sundar who is a part of NDLF IT Employees Wing is having around 20 years of experience in information technology. He wrote an article series on “IT employees Life Fun or Problems” to create awareness about various issues faced by IT employees. This write up is tenth and last part of Series 2.

We have seen the various aspects of layoffs and detailed ways of fighting against layoff in the previous parts. We will see what labor unions can do in helping employees and why unions are needed for IT industry.

Before we go on detail about the necessity of unions, let us see the various myths spread by IT sector veterans about employees joining unions:

  1. Employees of IT industry will not favor IT unions. No body supports the unions as they know their name will be blacklisted and they will not get job anywhere.
  2. We will not get foreign investment and if unions attain popularity, then many companies will leave India which will lead to unemployment crisis.
  3. IT industry has a high attrition of 15-20% where employees move out if they are not satisfied and this law for forming unions is not required.
  4. IT industry should be exempted from unnecessary regulations because it caters to the global marketplace..

Let us analyze if the above statements are true.

Currently several thousands of IT employees have joined labor unions. There are several labor unions like FITE, FORIT along with NDLF who organize IT employees.

But currently there is a perception that labor union is only for people who are under employment threat. The awareness is created about the importance of labor unions and now most employees are well aware about legal rights. So currently all IT employees are like sleeper cell and if any employee is targeted for layoffs, they approach unions.

Our NDLF wing is getting counselling call from employees working in IT companies in different locations and we are providing guidance to them. Definitely unions create roadblock for the management in their illegal and unethical employment practices. They are not able to terminate the way they have been doing for several years before, layoff counts reduced considerably this year. But still there is a long way to go and I am sure in the coming years, more employees will join unions.

Bank employees union protesting against FRDI bill

Now, we analyze whether foreign investment will be affected if unions attain popularity.

  • Currently unions exist in almost all manufacturing companies. Companies like Ford, Hyundai, Maruti and many other major companies who have factory in India have unions. These companies want to invest more and definitely unions are not setback for any company.
  • There are more powerful unions in many European countries and US and it is not specific to India. In fact, unions reduce the burdens of HR officers and ensures smooth coordination between management and employees in many factories.
  • All major banks in India have unions.
  • Even all IT companies form union among themselves in the name of NASCOM to raise their voice to government and get various benefits.

    A Protest meeting by a factory union

So definitely it is wrong to say that forming unions will reduce foreign investment. It is portrayed with the intention to stop the growth of unions

The other myth is IT companies have high attrition rate and hence no need for unions. If that is the case, why companies are trying to retrench people. If they are not retrenching people, we are not going to complain and unions automatically will lose their sheen.

The final statement that IT to be exempted from unnecessary regulations is also not valid. IT companies are started with intention of making profits and having their offices in India. They got various benefits from the government like uninterrupted water, power supply, tax rebates for SEZ, low cost land etc to promote employment in India. So after getting all benefits, if they want the government to close their eyes while they retrench is completely unethical.

Awareness among IT employees is far better compared to several years before and currently the only problem is they seek union help only during retrenchment issues. This will definitely change in the coming years and I am sure unions will play a vital role in IT industry like manufacturing and banking sectors very soon.

All employees who are not facing layoff threat today should join unions.

Hitler’s Nazi Germany – the need to unite.

There is a famous saying about Hitler’s Nazi Germany

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak for me.

Our industry is service oriented industry and employees are the back bone of the industry. So throwing the rights of employees into air and retrenching them without following regulations will back fire. We ask companies to put themselves in affected employee shoes and consider alternative methods instead of having illegal terminations.

I hope this series of article is useful to readers. My intention as I mentioned earlier is to build repository for all future employees to safeguard themselves from layoff threats and to educate them about legal rights an employee has to safeguard their jobs.

When I started writing in NDLF website, I was questioned by many that I am writing articles only to safeguard my job.I agree that it was true initially. But later, the experience I gained in saving several hundred people from termination brought me a lot of satisfaction. I am currently at the age of 43 and I served almost 21 years IT. The satisfaction I got in last 1 year in helping fellow IT employees is phenomenal. It gives me satisfaction of my life. I know my job is at risk while taking this matter but fortunately I did not face any threats to my job so far.

I request everyone to spread this article to fellow IT employees. Increased awareness only will bring the change and ensure safety of IT employees.

This also forces the management to think about legal way of terminations like voluntary retirement schemes instead of firing on the same day. Many of the leading companies have given share buyback spending Rs 10,000 – 20,000 crores year on year. If they pay Rs 10 lakh as VRS amount to 10,000 people, it comes only to Rs 1,000 crores. If company wants to reduce the workforce, they can consider legal ways of doing things. I am sure this option will be beneficial even to many employees compared to getting fired on the same day.

I thank everyone a lot for following this series. If you come across any IT employees facing layoff pressures call our union or email us and we are there to help you.

I am sure the awareness and safety brought to our life make IT employees happy and make IT Life more fun and prosperous.

The first series of IT Life Fun of Problems is available in printed version (both English and Tamil version). The cost of this book is Rs 60. Please contact our union mail ID for purchasing this book.

– Shyam Sundar

Permanent link to this article: http://new-democrats.com/it-life-fun-or-problems-ii-10/

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