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In my last write up published on July 2nd, I mentioned that I was moved to free pool and fighting against termination, refusing to resign.
As another 3 months time has passed, I am writing this article about the new developments in termination practices by Wipro management.
People who faced forced resignations started approaching labour departments and started submitting 2A petition (individual) and 2K petition (group) under Industrial Dispute Act 1947.
Many employees submitted petition (2A) to labour department with guidance from NDLF or FITE.
In Chennai, NDLF submitted 2K petition attaching names of 70 affected employees to seek remedy for threat to their jobs. This list includes employees from Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, Noida and other employees working onsite.
The grievances submitted as part of this 2K petition are as below:
- Employee’s profiles are locked, they are kept in bench without allocating projects, isolated and harassed to submit resignation
- Variable pay cut (that constitutes 10-20% of salary)
- Harassment of employees to submit self-resignation
The petition demanded Wipro
- to stop forcing employees to resign
- to allocate project and restore full salary to all affected employees
- to reinstate employees who were forced to resign.
- to share data on appraisal rating (which used to threaten employees) with the concerned employee and the union
- to involve the union in policy changes directly affecting employee rights.
After 2K petition is filed, for the past 2 months HR team in all locations stopped forcing employees to resign. But all of us are still in bench and projects are not allocated to many of us. Our lock continues to be there and variable pay is cut. Employees from whom resignations were obtained under threat still fight outside by filing 2A petition with labour department.
Wipro management representatives did not come to the LC office for 3 hearings on the 2K petition. HR representatives came for the 4th hearing on August 31st and collected details of petition submitted by NDLF. At the next hearing on September 18th, they asked for more time to reply. The next hearing is scheduled for this week and we are expecting some resolution for the grievances, keeping our fingers crossed.
In addition to Chennai employees mentioned above, many employees in Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Pune submitted individual grievance under section 2A of ID Act.
Usually 2A process have multiple hearings. Wipro HR team is not coming for the first 2-3 hearings. The time interval between each hearings will be 15 days so many 2A cases are dragging. Wipro legal and HR team came for conciliation meetings in cases after 2-3 hearings. The typical answer from Wipro HR team in this conciliation meetings are as follows:
- If affected employees are in band C1 and above, legal team is arguing that they are senior employees and come under manager category. So they will not fall under industrial dispute act
- If employee complained that they are forced to resign, HR argue that there is no forced resignation and employee submitted resignation on their own and it is voluntary exit.
The inference from 2A and 2K discussions is Wipro management team is trying to drag these issues as much as possible and make employee withdraw their cases. They are trying to find legal loop holes as industrial dispute act was framed in 1947 and there is no specific amendment pertaining to IT industry.
In the last article, I mentioned that I did not come across any termination cases. But now people above band D1 are given termination letters and terminated with 2 months salary. I came across 4 people in this category including one D2 employee. I believe Wipro management is taking the chance that people in senior bands would not fight termination and in case employees file cases they can argue that senior employees are not covered under industrial dispute act.
Now in Bangalore location, some of the employees started receiving discharge letter.
The process is as below:
- 2 months salary is credited in employee’s bank account.
- HR calls for a meeting and issue a letter titled discharge letter. (I have attached letter received by friend of mine who is discharged with immediate effect on Sep 22nd- all personal identification details masked). In this letter, Wipro quotes offer letter and mentions that company discharges employee with immediate effect with 2 months salary as per offer letter.
- The employee is made to surrender ID card and laptop etc and asked to leave.
As per my understanding, this clause of separating employees by giving 2 months notice exists in almost all offer letters given to 180000 Wipro employees. So we don’t understand how company uses this clause to ask only a few employees to leave.
- This letter does not provide any reason for discharging the employee which means it is a retrenchment by company.
- In case of retrenchment, the policy should be clearly defined and announced. Permission should be obtained from labour department.
- The company can not selectively discharge senior employees, rather preference should be given to retain the seniors.
Mental stress is definitely increasing day by day. We believe that the management chose Bangalore as initial location to test their new unfair and unlawful trick discharge
- as they feel 2K petition filed in Chennai gives legal protection to Chennai employees
- there is a case where employees got interim relief in Hyderabad against Tech Mahindra on illegal termination.
I believe that as there is no prior evidence of cases in Bangalore, this discharge letter technique is started in Bangalore location.
We are employees working for several years for the betterment of the company. We are targeted in this separation process and isolated/harassed to maximum extent to make us resign on our own.
Instead if the company announces separation policy with severance package (as per legal requirement), some of the employees may opt to take up the offer and leave. The compensation amount will help them to manage family responsibilities. But the company wants to follow arbitrary and illegal practices to force senior employees to leave.
I heard employees who filed complaint against Cognizant in Coimbatore labour department about non allocation of project under NDLF guidance were given project with performance improvement plans. All affected Wipro employees in different locations have our last hope that we may get remedy from labour commissioner of Chennai.
We are trying to file separate 2K for Hyderabad and Bangalore location but facing practical challenges due to legal and administrative issues. Now we realize the importance of the legal standing, organizational strength and political base of trade unions. In Chennai we were able to file grievance petition with the guidance of NDLF union leaders and legal adviser, but face difficulties in Bangalore and Hyderabad without a registered trade union like NDLF.
The outside job market is also very bad and not even 5% of our group of affected people got new jobs. We don’t have any option other than to fight this battle and we are determined to do so.
We are exploring legal options to challenge this fresh wave of terminations. We are the first ones to take up fight against these kind of mass terminations, and have not many past examples. Our fight will pave way for IT employees all over India and the next generation of employees to ensure their rights.
I hope my story will help any one facing layoff challenges. I am not sure if I will be in Wipro when I publish my next article but definitely I am determined to continue my fight against such actions by Wipro.
I will share next steps based on what is going to happen to me.
– Senior Wipro Employee