Bengaluru: Karnataka IT union demands that tech firms be brought under labour dept

Employees of some of the prominent tech companies in Bengaluru say that they have witnessed arbitrary termination, mass retrenchment, long working hours, and sexual harassment at work place, without a platform to raise their grievances.
Bengaluru: Karnataka IT union demands that tech firms be brought under labour dept
Written by:

Shouts of ‘Inquilab zindabad’ and ‘workers unity long live’ reverberated around Karmika Bhavana, the Karnataka Labour Commissioner’s office in Bengaluru, on Saturday, March 16, as hundreds of IT employees held a protest march against the ‘anti-worker practices’ in the information technology (IT) and information technology-enabled services (ITeS) sector in the state. 

One of the main demands of the protest, organised under the banner of Karnataka State IT/ITeS Employees Union (KITU), was to extend the implementation of the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) [IE(SO)] Act, 1946 to the IT/ITeS sector as well. 

The Act clearly states the rules to be followed during the recruitment of an employee, their working hours, attendance, procedure for obtaining leave, rights and liabilities of the employees arising from closing and temporary stoppages of work, termination and suspension or dismissal of the employee, and so on.

The reasoning behind exempting IT employees from this Act, according to the KITU, was that tech firms were considered as ‘sunrise industries’ and that the absence of such a law would help in accelerating the growth of these companies by throwing workers rights to the air. 

IT employees of some of the prominent tech companies in Bengaluru tell TNM that over the years, they have witnessed arbitrary termination, mass retrenchment, long working hours without extra pay, and even sexual harassment at work place, for which many of the firms don’t even have a complaints committee in place. 

In May 2019, the Karnataka Government had extended the exemption of the IT sector from the IE(SO) Act for a period of five years, which comes to an end on May 25 this year. If the exemption ceases, then the IT sector in the state will come under the state’s labour department, which will be able to look into the alleged worker’s rights violations that take place in the sector. 

Sooraj Nidiyanga, the general secretary of KITU, says that the union demanded the government not to renew the exemption anymore as the employers have not complied with the conditions imposed on them while giving the exemption. 

The conditions that the government stated while granting the exemption included the setting up of an Internal Committee (IC) in the firms as per the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013, a grievance redressal committee in every establishment, and IT companies should inform the labour department regarding cases of disciplinary action, discharge, termination, demotion, or dismissal of employees.

“All these conditions are blatantly violated by the establishments and thousands of employees are discharged, without notice or enquiry, laid off and retrenched without complying with the legal requirement to seek permission of the appropriate government under Industrial Disputes Act,” says Sooraj. 

A memorandum with all the demands of the union was handed over to HN Gopalakrishna IAS, Labour Commissioner, who said that he will hold consultations with all the necessary stakeholders and look into the matter. 

In December last year, there were reports that the Karnataka government is contemplating to bring the IT sector under the purview of the state labour department. 

In a report by Economic Times, Karnataka Labour Minister Santosh Lad was quoted as saying, “The exemptions to the tech sector have been around for many years now. A proposal to not extend it came before me in 2016 also, when I was the labour minister. I have come across instances of unfair termination, and such employees find it very difficult to get another job.” He went on to add that it was high time to revisit the exemption.

Related Stories

No stories found.
The News Minute