On the night of November 27, Moses Ranjan Raj, a techie working at TCS's SIPCOT Siruseri campus, was attending a conference call when he suddenly fell ill.
A team mate found the delivery manager lying on the ground near his work desk, having seizures.
Rushed to the Chettinad hospital, 41-year-old Moses was declared 'brought dead'. He had suffered a heart attack.
The Forum For IT Employees (FITE), the newly formed trade union for the IT sector in Tamil Nadu, has sought an enquiry into his death, alleging that TCS failed to provide proper medical facilities to its employee.
FITE said that the ambulance reached almost 15 minutes after Moses began having seizures. And when he was finally carried to the ambulance with the help of security guards, there was no doctor or nurse available in the van to check his vitals or provide him the necessary first aid.
"When the IT companies have got exemption from labor laws which facilitates them to extract work out of employees 24x7, why haven't they set up appropriate medical facilities round the clock to safeguard employees' lives? Why isn't the Labour department taking notice of this?" FITE asked in a statement.
"Moses would have been there with us by now had he been treated the first time he suffered from fits (seizures). Is this the responsibility the companies have towards their employees numbering in lakhs who give up even their lives, health, time with their families for the sake of these companies who operate solely on profit interests?" it asked.
While the immediate medical cause for Moses's death may well be a heart attack, FITE alleges that it was a harmful work culture in the industry that contributed to his death.
"Without realising day and night, IT workers work for extended hours due to workload which leads them to stress. Many times they skip their meals and are also deprived of adequate sleep. Due to this they fall prey to depression and fatal disorders such as Heart attacks at younger ages," FITE said.
The union has asked TN government to take action against TCS for â€śfailing to provide necessary emergency first aid treatment thereby failing to protect the life of Moses Ranjan Rajâ€ť.
It has also asked TCS to provide adequate compensation to his family keeping in mind the future of his wife and children.
A larger problem being ignored, says FITE
FITE alleges that most companies are not paying attention to the physical and mental well-being of its employees.
The union has also raised questions over the death of Ilayaraja Arunachalam, an Infosys Mahindra City employee, in June this year at the Mahindra World City, Chennai.
â€śThe post mortem showed that he died due to heart attack and fits. There has been no full-fledged research done on the disorders arising out of workplace issues (occupational health hazards) nor there has been any holistic plan implemented to safeguard the health of IT sector employees on part of the government,â€ť says FITE.
The adverse effects of a hectic work culture came to international attention this year when it was reported that a Japanese woman had 'died of overwork'. Miwa Sado, a 31-year-old journalist who put in 159 hours of overtime in the month before her death, passed away due to a heart failure.
Dr Alan Yeung, the medical director at Stanford Cardiovascular Health explained to TIME that "Unhealthy behaviors, like eating poorly or not exercising, are also linked to chronic stress from working long hours, and these can cause an increase in blood pressure or cholesterol."
Formed in 2014 amid the reported large-scale layoffs in TCS, FITE received its registration as a trade union on October 10 this year. It aims to work for the rights of the employee class in the IT/ITeS sector.
Read FITEâ€™s full description of the events on the night of Mosesâ€™s death here:
â€śOn the fateful night, Moses was involved in a conference call with the on-site team in the U.S. Since he became silent during the course of the call, the on-site team informed to an offshore team mate to reach out to Moses. When he reached the desk of Moses, he witnessed Moses lying on the ground suffering from fits. Baffled by the scene, the team mate tried his best to recover Moses from fits and had also immediately alerted the security guards. Meanwhile Moses had fainted and also suffered fits for the second time. The ambulance had reached the tower after 15 minutes of all these happenings. With the help of security guards Moses was boarded on to the ambulance. There was no doctor or nurse available in the ambulance to provide necessary first aid to Moses or to check his pulses and blood pressure. Since there was nobody else to accompany Moses to the hospital, the team mate had accompanied Moses in the ambulance,â€ť says FITE.
TNM has emailed TCS seeking a response. The story will be updated when we get a response.