FITE – Charter of Demands – IT and ITES Employees

FITE – Charter of Demands – IT and ITES Employees

By striking the potentialities of Steam, Electricity, Nuclear Energy and Information Technology, Humanity has witnessed three industrial revolutions and has reached the present state. With Artificial Intelligence at the heart of Information Technology, we are on the verge of stepping into the fourth industrial revolution which will empower Machines and Devices to possess the skill of ‘thinking’ and executing works just like humans do. Disciplines such as Robotics, 3D Printing, Genetics, Nanotechnology, Bio-Technology will have an important role to play in the fourth industrial revolution. Advent of Artificial Intelligence would substantially reduce the participation of humans in socio-productivity.

This era of Information Technology has substantially changed our lifestyle. It has changed the way we exhibit our interpersonal relationships. Smart phones convey our feelings in seconds which took for post cards many days. Even they have surpassed computers and have become indispensable in our everyday activities. After the fields of Science and Engineering, it is the field of Information Technology that is going to revolutionize productivity.

In India, approximately 30 lakh employees are directly employed in IT sector. 10 lakh employees have attained indirect employment. 30% of those 30 lakh employees in IT sector are women, that is 10 lakh women IT employees. 5 lakh employees present in IT sector of India are from Tamil Nadu. 8% of internal production of India is contributed from IT sector and this sector contributes to 30% of total exports made by our country. Of the total IT exports of India, Tamil Nadu contributes to 11% and stands third in ranking.

In our country, employees belonging to various traditional sectors such as government, private, small and large industries, skill and unskilled work have a way of resolving their grievances by associating themselves with Trade Unions and seeking government’s intervention. There have been amendments made to Labour Act and Companies Act in order to facilitate startup of new companies in new industrial sectors. But at the same time, there has been no advises given to Courts or labour departments on which law would fundamentally safeguard the employees of these new sectors. So, the modern sector which has revolutionized to a greater extent the lifestyle of our society, – The Information Technology sector’s employees find themselves in darkness whenever they are confronted with issues and have no legitimate place to go and seek justice.

Job Insecurity:
The employees of Information Technology sector are in a vulnerable position of being dismissed from their companies anytime and without any justification. Companies have been given free right to do this and they never even consider the future life of the employees when doing it. There is no government mechanism existent which can question this firing decision of companies and provide relief to the employees.

Forced Resignations:
Whenever employees raise their voice against workplace bias, it retaliates as a threat to their job security. The yearly “involuntary attrition” which involves terminating predetermined / fixed number of employees is being portrayed like voluntary resignation of employees done in legal ways. “Experience certificate” and “Resignation letter” are being used as “pawn objects” to blackmail and threaten employees thereby imparting a psychological fear and forcing them to resign.

Non Transparent Appraisal System:
In this appraisal system, a manager has to fit/categorize specific percentage of employees in to these categories – Exceeding the Expectation, Above Expectation, Meeting the Expectation, Below Expectation, Need Improvement. Through this way, 10% of employees are being subjected to forced resignations. Decision of fitting the employees to those categories solely rests with the manager and hence it is prone to partiality/bias. Observing that this system creates disunity amongst employees, Infosys and few big organizations have moved ahead with alternative ways. This appraisal ratings become a deciding factor in determining salary hike and promotions. This system is indirectly used to inflict job terminations.

Hooliganism/Rowdyism of IT companies:

In the current situation, an employee cannot raise his/her voice against any work place bias. Be it individually or as a group, employee cannot question management’s decision on long working hours, work overload, promotion, salary hike, location transfer, project transfer, leaves or on-site opportunity. If questions are being raised, they will be subjected to forced resignations and job terminations. Those who refuse to relent would be driven away from the company using goondas/rowdies of the companies. Experience certificate, resignation certificate would be confiscated. Employee’s opposition/retaliation that he/she raised against management’s unjust activities would be registered/recorded.

Every company while recruiting an employee will perform a “background check” of that employee. During that time, the former employer would report in negative about that employee if he/she had raised questions or fought against about workplace bias in that previous organization. This background check is facilitated with the help of NASSCOM – which is an association IT employers. So if an employee has to work in this sector, he/she should be a passive recipient of atrocities committed on him/her or around him. Thus “Background Checks” also creates a fear factor that prevents employees associating themselves to a Trade Union.

Gender discrimination at workplace:

Marriage and Maternity has become to be a hindrance for job continuation of women employees in IT sector. Appraisal rating and the benefits that sprouts from it namely salary hike and promotion have a significant difference between before & after Marriage and likewise before & after Maternity. Pregnant employees become an easy target during involuntary attrition. In our society, where child raising becomes the predominant task of the women, companies also confine to view women in the same way. Because of denial of rights such as required maternity leave, work from home option, extension of leave for child care, many women employees find no option but to quit from jobs. In IT sector, the right of equal employment opportunity for both man and woman is denied to woman just because she is a woman.

Disappearance of companies:

There are many IT companies in our country that have been started on relatively small investments. Employees working for these small IT companies have no guarantee that their monthly salaries and PF amounts will be reaching them without any delay. These companies have the liberty to shut down their operations and disappear from the country anytime and there is no government machinery existent that can question this. These companies have no liability to pay any compensation to their employees before closing down. These companies would be long gone and would have disappeared by the time we knock the doors of the judicial system.

Defying the right of fixed working hours:

In IT sector, there are no clearly defined working hours and if the day needs working for many hours together, no employee can raise voice against it. If the project needs employee working on weekends, it should be done at whatever cost. If the completion of task actually needs effort from two employees but if only one is assigned, the employee cannot question such decision. If the employee resists and opposes against these measures, then his/her job security would definitely be at risk.

Government holidays are given least respect. When employees are made to work on such holidays, they are not given double compensation. In order to win project from client during bidding, the hours required for project completion is deliberately under-quoted. At the same time a minimal number of employees are used to complete the project by extracting maximum work from them. By hiding these extra slogging hours and via other unjust means, employees’ are exploited.

Right to unite as Trade Unions:

When employers of Information Technology sector has unionized themselves under NASSCOM for the benefit of the industry, the fundamental right given by the constitution of India to the employees – which is the right to associate themselves under Trade Unions has been refused/violated by IT companies in various ways. Disputes happening at workplaces are being arbitrated in favour of the management by the company’s Human Resource Manager itself. The right of unionizing which is exercised by the employees of traditional sectors are not being made available for the employees of this modern IT sector.

Increasing rate of suicides and Divorces:

Going to office has become a situation akin to entering in to a competition arena for the employees and they are left to face the issues at workplace individually and not as a collective group. Added to this the problem of job insecurity and the psychological depression it creates for the employees leads them even to suicides. Increase of suicides and divorces amongst IT employees serves to be a mirror that reflects the impact of occupational health problems that they are going through at workplaces.

IT sector posts 10% growth every year. The companies enjoy many allowances such as tax allowance for many years, availability of land and electricity at subsidized prices. Yet they employ ‘Hire & Fire’ mechanism thereby extracting maximum work from employees and then throwing them off when the companies feel they are not needed anymore. There are umpteen employees within the age of 40 who spent many years striving for the welfare of the companies but then later chucked off by the companies having least regards for the employees’ future.

As we step towards fourth Industrial Revolution which would lead to creation of more job opportunities, advent of automation and artificial intelligence such as Robotics would significantly reduce job opportunities in the future. In this very situation where IT employees are devoid of law empowerment and are deprived of their right to unionize, Forum for IT Employees – FITE places the following demands to your attention and we request determined action upon them,

    1.  The Government should encourage IT employees to unionize themselves with Trade Unions in order to redress the issues arising with the management at workplaces.
    2. NASSCOM maintains a database called “National Skills Registry – NSR” which comprises details of employees of Indian IT sector. The details include even personal – bio-metric data of employees and it is still not transparent on the usage and the requirement of these employees’ details. Hence NSR should not be maintained and its usage should be purged.
    3. Because of the mechanism called “Background Check”, an employee has to remain a silent spectator whenever there is a violation of workplace rights on him/her. So this process of “Background Check” before hiring an employee should be banned.
    4. IT employers themselves such as Infosys have observed that Performance Appraisal System offers only a biased way of assessing employees’ skill and hence have moved away from that system. Since this performance appraisal fundamentally determines the salary hike and promotion opportunities for the employees, we demand that the government should monitor this process and devise a suitable alternative system for assessing skill of IT employees.
    5. In places where IT companies are concentrated, affordable and quality rental accommodations and government hostels should be made available for both male and women employees.
    6. Judicial tribunals that would dedicatedly investigate into the problems of IT employees should be immediately installed.
    7. In order to perform conciliation to problems/disputes faced by IT employees, Labour Conciliation offices should be installed in places where IT companies are concentrated.
    8. The Government of Tamil Nadu should take all necessary steps in bringing the employees of IT sector under Industrial Disputes Act. It should further ensure that this law has provisions in order to make amendments in future according to requirements of employees of IT sector.
    9. Working Hours of IT employees should be strictly maintained as 8 hours per day.

Demands specific to women employees

  1. Paid Maternity leave of Women Employees should be increased to 6 months.
  2. At least 1 out of 3 employees should be ensured that she is a woman and this should be done in all different positions/levels of IT sector. There should be in place a mechanism that would gradually ensure attainment of equal participation of men and women in all job and growth opportunities in IT sector.
  3. IT companies should facilitate working women by inclusion of day care centers in their office premises for them to take care of their children.
  4. Establishment of “Internal Complaints Committee” in order to investigate complaints of sexual harassment should be ensured in all workplaces that employ women. The members comprising of that committee should be sensitive towards such issues and should be fit enough in handling them.
  5. During the time of pregnancy, flexibility in workplace, work timings and work from home option should be made available for women.
  6. Safety transportation of woman employees during night times from company to home and vice versa should be ensured by the companies.