Tamil Nadu’s newly launched Information and Communication Technology (ICT) policy, launched a decade after the previous one was unveiled, has left IT employee unions in the state disappointed.
The new policy looks to encourage new verticals, single window clearance and provide incentives for startups as well as small and medium enterprises, especially in tier 2 and tier 3 cities.
Bharinidharan, president of Union of IT and ITeS employees says that the current policy doesn’t address concerns of IT employees in the state.
“Chennai is the only city, which is not a headquarter for any IT company but is still the 3rd largest IT exporter in India. The previous policy had certain value regarding industries and brought a lot of IT companies to Chennai. But the policy that the government is implementing now is anti-employee,” he says.
The reason, he says, is that several exemptions are being given to attract large corporates to the state and in the process, employee welfare is taking a back seat.
Vasumathi R, President, Forum for IT/ ITES Employees (FITE) says there are a lot of points of disconnect between the two policies.
“Despite not releasing data on the achievement of targets in the 2008 policy, this time the government has come out with more ambitious plans. Our demand is job security for the employees who had already been laid off,” she says.
The government must address the issue where companies use performance as a reason for firing people. The government must intervene and arrive at a conclusion for such employees, she adds.
Bharanidharan says the policy only favours large companies. Though the policy talks about boosting startups and mid-level companies, he says that the previous policies too spoke of similar things but there was no fruitful implementation.
Even in terms of the focus on developing the ICT sector in smaller cities, initiatives from the previous policy haven’t yet been implemented, Bharinidharan points out.
He also says that single window clearance was being talked about since the last policy but the only companies to benefit from that have been MNCs.
“There is a problem in that policy and in the system. Since 1998, they have been talking about single window but people who have received single window clearance, if you see the list, are only corporates. In Chennai, there are 10-12 SEZs, all owned by corporates,” he says, adding that these terms are being coined only to gain attention of corporates to bring investments to Chennai but not boosting mid-level and startup companies.
But Bharinidharan is quick to point out that they are not against corporates coming into the state. What is needed is that these large corporates abide by the law.
“Take the 2016 TCS issue, where nearly 25,000 people were affected. Was the state govt able to control that? We filed a petition, but still the case is pending. That's the state of employment in these large corporations. They come with lots of sops and offers and take employee welfare for granted,” he adds.
The IT unions feel that the government needs to balance the policy in a way that corporates who benefit from the sops given by the state take responsibility of employee welfare as well.
“And it’s the duty of the government to monitor companies getting these exemptions to see they are maintaining their employees well and are giving back to the society,” Bharandidharan adds.