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Satyam withholds salaries for two months

Satyam employees say they have received an email saying the company would hold back salaries for two months and asked staffers to bear with it. Satyam sinks | Anatomy of fraud | See graphics

business Updated: Jan 09, 2009 18:03 IST

Satyam Computer on Friday announced holding back employees salaries for two months, even as rumours were rife that the company might lay off close to 15,000 workers in the coming days.

The offices of Satyam Computer were rife on Friday with the talks about forthcoming pink-slips at the company, which needs over Rs 500 crore every month just to meet its staff costs and has admitted that its cash position was not encouraging. Employees said they have received an e-mail saying the company would hold back salaries for two months and asked staffers to bear with it.

However, the company spokesperson declined knowledge of any such e-mail and the issue would be looked into. Even as the company spokesperson denied any layoff plans as of now, the rumours put the estimated job cuts at close to 15,000 by the end of this month.

Employees at the company said on condition of anonymity that they were hearing about imminent lay-off of people who were sitting on the bench or were close to completing their assigned projects. Besides, those being retained would be asked to take substantial salary cuts, they added. At the same time, global HT consultancy firm Hay Group's Practice Leader Mark Thompson said that employees would suffer the most from the fraud.

Global HR consultancy firm HayGroup's Practice Leader Mark Thompson said: "Based on past experience ... As with Enron, Worldcom and the Mirror Group, it is likely to be the employees who will suffer most from the fraud perpetrated by their bosses."

In early 2000, the collapse of energy trader Enron had left thousands of people out of work, another 8,500 had lost their jobs at accounting firm Arthur Andersen; and Tyco eliminated 15,000 employees in February.

Executive search firm Headhunters India's CEO Krish Lakshmikanth has said the company might lay off over 10,000 employees by the next month as it has little cash to pay salaries.

"It is most likely that Satyam will cut 10,000 jobs next month as the company is left with no cash to pay the salaries. The current fiasco is likely to put pressure on salaries, which may reduce by 10 per cent due to the surplus of about 20,000 people in the jobs market," Lakshmikanth said. Lakshmikanth said till Tuesday evening there were about 7,800 Satyam employees who had posted their resumes on job sites and by Wednesday afternoon, it rose to 14,000. Satyam's interim CEO Ram Mynampati yesterday said the company has taken care of the salary for December, but its liquidity position was not encouraging. When contacted, IT-BPO employees union UNITES said, "We are in touch with the senior and top-level management of Satyam, all kind of rumours are doing the rounds but we still do not have any clarity on the isuue."

"It is unlikely that there will be any layoffs as the new management is trying to portray that all is well in Satyam. Moreover, this is election year, even if the company do not have money government might chip in to rescue the employees," UNITES General Secretary Karthik Shekhar said. According to the latest Manpoer Employment Outlook Survey hiring intent in IT & ITeS sector has gone down drastically this quarter, compared to the last quarter, but the space is showing a positive hiring intent, with net employment outlook of 23 per cent for the first quarter of 2009. "In India IT and ITeS sector has been a low-cost and high -quality player and will surely emerge big again after the crisis," Manpower India added.

Meanwhile, UNITES India, a union of ITeS professionals, has warned that over 50,000 IT professionals in India may lose their jobs over the next six months as the situation in the sector is expected to worsen due to the impact of global meltdown on the export-driven industry.