Nearly a dozen leading IT companies on Friday declined to confirm or acknowledge employees right to form labour unions to redress their grievances invoking the provisions of Industrial Disputes Act 1947.
Some of the tightlipped IT companies are Infosys, Wipro, TCS, Flipkart, Microsoft, Mphasis, Juniper and Amazon India.
The question of IT employees possessing the right to form trade unions arose after Tamil Nadu Labour and Employment Department Principal Secretary Kumar Jayant clarified the New Democratic Labour Front – IT Employees Wing (NDLF) that workforce is free to form unions, as reported by a leading daily on Thursday.
According to Jayant, no company can claim exemption from Industrial Disputes Act 1947 and IT companies are also governed by the same provisions as other industries.
The IT companies employing hundreds of thousands of people in multiple locations in India and overseas did not reveal if there exists or not a union created by their employees.
The companies declined to comment if they would welcome the idea of employees wishing to form trade unions to fight for their rights as provided by the Industrial Disputes Act 1947.
Interestingly, many companies take a written undertaking from their employees to refrain from trade union activities, which was also neither confirmed nor acknowledged.
However, the silence from the leading lights of IT industry gives currency to several speculations and suspicions, like if there ever a trade union existed among them.
Recently, several IT and e-commerce companies faced flak for deferring and backtracking employment offers to hundreds of pass-outs from leading Indian colleges, notably Flipkart.
Employees in India cutting across a range of industries have active labour unions to ensure their welfare.
All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) is a famous employee union which paralyses public sector banking operations for the rights and welfare of its hundreds of thousands of members.
In January 2015, a TCS employee in Chennai appealed to Madras High Court and got her termination stayed invoking Industrial Dispute Act 1947.
“Most IT employees do not come forward to form unions because they are afraid that the whole industry will single them out and blacklist for life. Their details will be spread among Nasscom members and databases. That’s why you would not find IT employee unions,” said Hyderabad-based software engineer Srinu who declined to give his full name.
According Srinu, 60-80 percent employees are ready to join the IT employee unions if they are successfully formed but none of them will take the lead to form, because they are scared of consequences.
“It is not like government employee unions. IT companies are pure profit oriented businesses, despite earning substantially on each employee every year and gaining the capability to take care of the employee for the next three to five years, companies just do not do that,” added Srinu.