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Support groups and counselling mark Bangalore’s job crunch

Sacked techies are mounting a campaign to stem job losses with a network that aims to move courts, the government and industry association NASSCOM. BR Srikanth reports.

business Updated: Apr 13, 2009 23:24 IST
BR Srikanth

As pink slips out number offer letters in Bangalore’s crisis-hit IT industry, sacked techies are mounting a campaign to stem job losses with a network that aims to move courts, the government and industry association NASSCOM. This is unprecedented in the city that has 1,600 IT or IT-enabled service companies, that employ about 5.5 lakh people.

While some plan to gather their former colleagues, others prefer a common strategy for all those who were fired in the tech industry. Raghavendra, who lost his job in a multinational, has launched an Internet portal (www.lay-off.org) to discuss legal issues and management of personal finances in such trying times.

“These companies could have asked us to go on unpaid leave (till they signed more clients) than force us to quit because we cannot find matching jobs elsewhere,” rues Raghavendra.

As for others like R Mohan, a team leader in Wipro Ltd, and S Thilak, a project manager with the same firm, (both got severance letters last month), a common forum to fight for the cause of those in a similar plights seem to be the way out. With giants like Infosys and Wipro scaling down their hiring or headcounts, with many asked to go on grounds of poor performance, job-hopping is not quite easy.

Some hit by the wave have turned consultants, while others have either joined start-ups or taken to teaching. Some others have enrolled for higher education or moved out to join firms in other cities. “The sheen (of Bangalore) has certainly diminished. It has lost at least 30,000 IT professionals last year going by what HR consultants have told me. Fortunately, we won’t see more layoffs next year, but there won’t be any hiring because every company will tighten its belt to face challenging times,” said TV Mohandas Pai, board member and human resource head at Infosys.

He said his firm had “outplaced” 680 staff (helped them find jobs in other companies), while another 600-odd have been placed in a performance improvement programme. &

A spokesperson for Wipro said there were no layoffs but some employees without project work had been retained at half-wages on ten-day work schedules every month.

Prateek Kumar, HR head at Wipro, declined to discuss layoffs. Dr Ali Khwaja, Chairman, Banjara Academy, an organization that runs counseling centres across Bangalore, says more and more techies have turned up for guidance and emotional support.

“We dealt with a 25 year-old woman (software engineer) who was abruptly told to leave Infosys a month ago. We find that bitterness has set in, and she wants to take up a career in child development and counseling, rather than join another IT firm. She is ok with a low pay cheque,” Khwaja said.