• Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - 05:30
Anisha Sheth | The News Minute | January 3, 2015 | 8.36 pm IST For a few hours, IT professionals in Bangalore seriously considered forming a union in order to create a “safety net” for themselves on account of mass “involuntary attrition” being put in motion by TCS. The IT Employees Centre (ITEC) and the Federation of IT Employees (FITE) organized a meeting in the city on Saturday, to understand the nature of lay-offs and the legal procedures involved. They invited officials from the labour department, lawyers who work with labour issues and also representatives from two major trade unions to speak on the subject and answer their questions. During the meeting, attended by nearly 100 IT professionals, most of whom were in the 25-35 age group, several issues including the possibility of the formation of a union were discussed. Several people were employees of TCS and were worried about losing their jobs. Read: Mystery behind proposed layoffs at TCS continues, company says employees briefed about situation  One of the biggest hurdles was to clarify whether or not they could form a labour union. Joint Labour Commissioner J T Jinkalappa told the gathering that although IT employees’ unions were not permitted under the purview of the Industrial Employment Standing Orders Act, they could still do so under the Trade Unions Act. He also explained the rules involving lay-offs. Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) leader S Prasanna Kumar said: “When G8, NATO can get into combination, why the IT employees can’t form a trade union to protect their interests?” His remarks were met with loud applause from the audience. Speaking in favour of forming a union, Murugan said: “What we don’t realize is that we are labourers. (But) we have a superiority (complex). We need to ask, are we hired for our better minds, or are we hired for our cheaper minds?” He said that there was a need for collective action as it was not just about TCS employees, but all professionals, and because any of them could be next. Another professional who works with a multi-national company, said that there should be some formal complaint against TCS. Talking about the fear of a backlash from their employees for having formed an association, he said: “Until now we have had no conflict (with the management), but the risk is always there. This is the first time there is a conflict (the TCS lay-offs). But unless someone takes the risk (of doing something about the lay-offs), nothing will change.” Read: Blood-letting good for IT industry, Mohandas Pai on layoffs A professional at TCS said that after listening to all the options put forward by the labour department officials and trade union leaders, she was convinced that the only was to solve their problems was to unionize.  “A union is the only thing that will help. The judiciary wont help, the government wont help. I have 11 years of experience and my job could be on the line as they have identified people who have had experience of above eight years.” Earlier, Jinkalappa had said that it could investigate anonymous complaints for certain kinds of violations, but not all. He said that for many offences, upon finding the employer guilty of violating the law, the “fine imposed was not less than the taxi fare that is required to get to the court”. A young man who was keenly watching the proceedings was however, skeptical that anything could come out of the meeting. “Even a month ago, nobody would have come to a meeting like this. Maybe they would have in 2008. Now they are interested, but I doubt that even one person will file a complaint. Another member of the group however, was optimistic. He says he has managed to get in touch with some of those who have already been laid off in other cities such as Pune and Hyderabad and that some of them had agreed to approach the courts. Once the guest speakers left, several people stayed back to discuss a course of action. The group eventually decided that some form for collective action was essential, but that it need not necessarily be a union, as there was too much apprehension about the idea. It was decided to try and contact as many laid-off people as possible, and attempt to convince them to bring them in contact with the group and those would be out of a job in the coming days. So far, they have begun an online petition PMO, ILO, Ministry of IT Affairs and respective state governments, demanding that the laid-off employees be re-instated and future lay-offs be stopped by TCS. (The names of all IT professionals have been changed) Tweet