Senior Cognizant Employee Prepares to Fight Retrenchment Plan

Economic Times reports that Cognizant (CTS) is planning to layoff senior level employees in this year.

“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 ” Raj Mehta, President at Cognizant, told ET in an interview. He did not disclose the number of employees targeted. Later company spokesperson told ET that the number of senior job cuts will be under 200. However the number 200 is not verified and our guess is it could be more. In 2016 & 2017 also CTS retrenched lot of employees , who were not even covered under VSP (Volunteer Separation Scheme) .

A senior level employee called our union and talked about the happenings in CTS. The employee whom we spoke is having fairly long years of experience in information technology . He is taking care of delivery ownerships as part of his job and the nature of his job is skilled and technical. He is not part of decision making in the company, has no power to recruit or terminate employees, no power to sign cheques on behalf of the company. But the company is using his experience as a loop hole and try to meet the layoff target.

After talking to him, our understanding about the retrenchment plan of CTS are as follows;

  1. They remove the senior employees from the billable role/project/existing role in the company and try to show their role as redundant. The plan here is “if we humiliate employee by disrespecting them, they will abide by the termination plan and leave the company on their own”.
  2. Many of the senior employees fall prey to this and don’t want to fight the management. This is a major drawback in IT Industry while in blue collar industry even a junior level employee fights for their right.  With high education, global exposure and sound experience many of the IT employees are not ready to take up the fight and surrender to management tactics.
  3. This gives the perception that management is taking a chance of terminating by finding loop holes in the legal system that senior employees are not covered under Industrial Dispute Act. But definitely legal system has not given provision to any company to find loop holes and do illegal termination. If more senior employees take the challenge in the court and if judgments start coming in favor of employees, then automatically companies will stop finding loopholes.

NDLF is guiding many senior employees to take legal challenges against illegal retrenchments. In the last 1 year, we have many senior employees who has given retrenchment letter has filed 2A petition and then approached labor department for their justice. There are more than a dozen legal dispute filed in various courts in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune locations.

We need the following clarification from CTS management about their plan:

  1. As per Raj Mehta, he wants to clean the top level of the pyramid. You cannot insult senior CTS employees anything more than this. If they are deadwoods, how CTS run the company with these employees for several years. His speech portrays the corporate mentality of treating employees as non living assets like computer, air-conditioners etc and can be weeded out as they grow old.
  2. These employees are vice presidents, directors, group heads and delivery heads who front run the company for several years. If CTS treats employee in these level like this, it is clearly evident how corporates treat their other employees. For the profit of the company only, these senior employees work late night, travel onsite, attend meetings  late nights and manage deliveries. If people in that category are to be weeded out, what this means for other employees working in CTS
  3. If company has to retrench people, they can do retrenchment only in last in first out basis. If they are targeting senior employees, land of law is flying in air here. Does Indian government agree   senior employees to be retrenched by companies like this without following land of law?
  4. Is Land of law not applicable for big corporates like CTS?
  5. If company can terminate as per their wish by claiming senior employees as waste to be cleaned, then what is the purpose of having various retrenchment laws?
  6. All information technology companies got cheaper land, tax benefits, uninterrupted water and power only for the reason they promote employment in India. If these companies get all the benefits and not abide with law, what is the government’s take on this?
  7. Why companies are not taking mutual consent options like voluntary retirement scheme instead of sending employee tagging them as waste to the company?

We request CTS management to stop this illegal retrenchment. We request them to treat employees with self respect and take action against people like Raj Mehta for talking against employees. We also request Indian Government and courts  to interfere in this matter and save employees rights.

– a Senior Cognizant Employee

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