In a sign of the beginning of unionisation among India’s two million IT workforce, trade unions such as Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) have come out in support of TCS employees facing termination.
Leaders of both unions expressed solidarity and urged around 100 software engineers, who gathered in Bangalore on Saturday, to discuss ways to resist what appears to be a large-scale retrenchment drive at the 3,13,000-strong IT services firm.
Alarmed by a possible downsizing move across the IT industry, software professionals from Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and other companies came for the meeting organised by the IT&ITES Employees Centre (ITEC) and decided to conduct protest demonstration in the city in coming weeks.
A TCS spokesperson did not respond to mails and SMSs by HT.
IT workforce, traditionally wary of organising demonstrations fearing the strict diktats that exist in the industry, is now taking tentative steps towards coming together, albeit in small numbers.
“The only solution is the Buddha mantra; ‘sangam sharanam gachami’ (I take refuge in organising),” said Prasannakumar, general secretary, Karnataka, CITU.
“The Indian IT industry is labour intensive in nature. Does it make any sense to argue for labour law exemptions in such an industry?” asked Satyanand Mukund, district secretary of AITUC, and a former TCS staff.
Meanwhile, a dozen TCS employees HT met at YWCA Koramangala, the venue of the meeting, confirmed there is a widespread retrenchment move within the company, which is creating panic and anger since it allegedly targets people above eight years of experience, who find it difficult to find alternative jobs within the industry.
“The situation is horrible. Two of my seniors got pink slips,” a TCS staff said. “It started three weeks ago and about 3,500 people across various centres have already lost their jobs. The numbers will swell in the coming weeks. This will continue on to the next quarter,” a middle-level manager said.
“The firing started with banking and finance unit, the largest segment within TCS and began in other units such as insurance,” another employee said, two of whose colleagues were asked to leave last week. Another manager who spent more than 10 years in the company said all account heads in the company were asked to give details of the staff above eight years of experience in their teams.
“The company currently has about 90,000 staff with more than eight years of experience. The plan is to bring it down to 30,000 and hire more juniors,” he said.
TCS has maintained that there is nothing out of the ordinary and involuntary attrition, which is mostly performance related, is just 1-2% of the total strength.