No spot lay-offs, better gratuity, Kerala IT workers demand as industry's sheen fades

'IT industry is no longer booming': Kerala IT employees begin campaign for their rights.
No spot lay-offs, better gratuity, Kerala IT workers demand as industry's sheen fades
No spot lay-offs, better gratuity, Kerala IT workers demand as industry's sheen fades
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The IT industry has been known as India's golden goose for at least the past two decades. But professionals in Kerala now say that the industry is no longer the "ever-booming" cash cow you were made to believe it was. 

"Everything was going fine… we were getting a lot of projects, we met deadlines, money was coming in and clients were happy. And then one morning, I was rated as an inefficient employee and asked to leave the company," says 53-year-old Premakumaran, a former employee at Technopark in Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram.
He says that he was forced to resign from the company, after nine years of working as an operations manager. Prem sees himself as a victim of the IT industry's indiscriminate layoffs. The IT industry's "hire and fire" policy has left him on the streets, he rues.

 It is with this grouse against layoffs, and with many other demands that the employee collective of Technopark have made a proposal to safeguard IT professionals in the state. The employees are set to submit the proposal to the IT Minister of the state, Pinarayi Vijayan. 

The proposal has been formulated by the community of employees called "Prathidhwani." 

"IT industry is no longer booming, as many people think it is. Job security is only a dream and the industry need to be regulated. We are proposing a couple of things including the formulation of a welfare board for IT employees. A social welfare scheme, similar to that is given to the unorganized sectors, should be formed," the secretary of the collective told TNM.

Among their demands is a grievance redressal mechanism involving a third party and relaxing gratuity norms. An employee is now entitled to receive gratuity only if he or she has an experience of more than 5 years in the company.  

The employees also want fraudulent companies that offer training and cheat people in the name of giving them jobs, to be blacklisted. A pension scheme for IT employees is another demand that Prathidhwani is putting forward. 

"A regulatory mechanism involving people from the government to solve employee’s grievances should be put in place. Earlier in 2008 when companies used to terminate employees on short notice, the then government had said that it would form a body to check this. But nothing happened. We want such a committee to come into being," Prathidhwani's secretary said. 

While Prem welcomed Prathidhwani's proposal, he puts forth a question to the government. 

"What about employees like me who have been forced to resign? I approached the District Labour Office for justice, but since I had 'voluntarily' resigned, there is no legal standing for my claims."

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