The Chennai labour commissioner has asked the aggrieved employees impacted by IT services major Cognizant’s decision to reduce its headcount, to officially raise an industrial dispute before the conciliation officer individually, to seek remedy for their problems. In a communication to the Forum for IT Employees (FITE) and New Democratic Labour Front (NDLF-IT), the two unions spearheading the cause of IT employees, the commissioner said the dispute can be raised under Section 2A of the Industrial Disputes Act, with regard to termination of employees.
However, the labour department ordered that as far as other issues regarding performance appraisal was concerned, industrial dispute may be raised by trade unions under Section 2(k) of the Industrial Disputes Act, before the appropriate forum. The labour department had held meetings with management representatives of Cognizant and FITE on the alleged illegal termination and conducted an inquiry with IT company’s management after complaints of mass lay-offs.
FITE and NDLF had separately represented the labour commissioner in this regard, to mobilise the employees of Indian IT industry. The last of the three meetings held in May 17 had deliberated on the vexed lay-off issue as alleged by the union members as a follow-up action on a petition moved by the aggrieved employees a few days ago with the state government’s labour department here.
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FITE and NDLF- IT to argue their case stated that thousands of employees either were laid off or asked to resign owing to increased automation, digitisation and cost cutting measures as well as pressure to recruit locals in the US.
Faced with slowdown in business and increased use of automation, IT companies in India have started to optimise their employee strength.
Cognizant’s performance appraisal measures and voltunatry retirement scheme had resulted in job losses. Similar exercise has also been undertaken by other companies such as Infosys, Wipro, Tech Mahindra and Capgemini.
However, Nasscom, the Indian IT industry trade body has dismissed any notion of layoffs by the industry stating that sector added 1.5 lakh employees annually while adding that any optimisation of employee workforce was largely due to performance measures and need to meet the demands of changing market conditions.