Tamil Nadu paves the way for Indian IT industry to be unionized, but will it happen?

Most of the IT companies do not have employee unions currently.
Tamil Nadu paves the way for Indian IT industry to be unionized, but will it happen?
Tamil Nadu paves the way for Indian IT industry to be unionized, but will it happen?
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Tamil Nadu government’s recent response to a petition allowing formation of unions in IT companies could come as a relief to many, but will not be received well by company managements. While the IT employees and unions calls it a good move by the government and on the other, the companies are not very supportive of the idea.

This response from the government came after a petition was filed by Puthiya Jananayaga Thozhilalar Munnani seeking a platform for the IT employees to redress their grievances.

Recently more than 1500 engineering students were left in the lurch after their hiring was cancelled by L&T Infotech, and in such a situation, unions are the need of the hour, say employees.

 Talking to The News Minute, Karthik Shekar, General Secretary of an IT union called UNITES, says, “We have benefitted in the past with the union but the companies do not recognize the unions.”

 He says that now even the Tamil Nadu Government has realized that unions are required but the companies and NASSCOM do not recognize the need of unions. “Companies say that IT people are not employees but professionals.”

 He points out that IT companies in Europe have unions and the decisions are taken after considering the views of the unions. Contrary to that, when the same companies function in India, they do not allow any unions to function in the company.

 Asking about his experience of being part of an employee union for the past ten years, he said, “When the union takes a particular issue to the employers, they do not help. So, we have to either seek help from the court or contact global union called UNI in Europe. We are affiliated with them. Then UNI contacts the headquarters of these companies abroad and gets the issues sorted.”

Former Infosys board member TV Mohandas Pai however is against the idea of having a union in IT companies.  “Software employees are better off building their careers and switching jobs. Because if they form unions or become a member of a union no one will give them a job. Forming unions is a bad idea. People who do not have a future or a career will think of forming a union,” he said.

He added, “IT industry has 15-20 percent of attrition levels where employees can move out if they are not satisfied,” he said.

Most of the IT companies do not have a employee unions currently. A Human Resources Manager from a top IT company says that instead of having a union their company has a Business partner and an Employee partner, both these people are part of the HR team. But when it comes to decision making, both these people have to support the company and convince the employee to come in terms with what the company wants. She says that having a union is a good idea as the issues of the employees will be well addressed.   

An IT employee from a software company in Chennai said, “The work culture in a IT company is very competitive. All the employees have to please their managers to get a good appraisal and under such circumstances, no one will take the chance of going against the company and forming a union,” he said.

Unions are just seen as a last resort for these companies, he says. “Last time when IBM and TCS laid off many employees, a union was formed but generally there are no unions in companies. A body is required which can keep a check if the companies follow proper rules for hiring their employees,” he said.

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