With reports of layoffs in the information technology sector doing the rounds, a group of software professionals from Tamil Nadu said they were working to set up an employees’ union. If the proposal materialises, India will get its first IT employee’s union, NDTV reported on Wednesday.
P Parimala, who is leading the group, said around 100 people have already signed up as members. The name of the organisation is likely to be “Forum for IT Employees, Tamil Nadu” and it will lobby for women’s safety in offices and protection against unceremonious sackings, the news channel added.
The IT wing of New Democratic Labour Front, another union active in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, is also trying to get workers to unite. “Even now, mobilising support in a big way in IT is difficult,” Kumar S, a member of NDLF-IT, told The Economic Times.
The demand for an employees’ union, common in most fields of work, also faces a big challenge in the IT sector – perception. Many workers feel they will be regarded as “trouble-makers” and “trade unionists” by their employers if they become members of a union. Proving that their fears are not unfounded, Infosys co-founder Mohandas Pai told NDTV that “nobody will be interested in joining these unions” as “96% of business comes from outside India”.
While Tamil Nadu had allowed trade unions in the IT sector in 2016, its neighbour, Karnataka, does not do so yet. Increasing protectionism in the United States and rising automation of work have led to IT giants handing out pink slips to employees. One of the biggest employers in the sector, Infosys, has delayed hikes in its staffers’ remuneration amid speculation that it is planning to fire hundreds of employees. In a recent letter to the firm’s employees, Chief Operating Officer Pravin Rao said the compensation review for mid-level employees has been deferred until July and beyond to reduce costs and ensure payments.