Earth was a mere stardust when it was created 4.5 Billion years ago. It was people like us who carved Earth’s barren lands of rocks and mountains in to wonderful places of inhabitance. It is WE, the working people who produce rice and milk, cotton and dress, iron and vehicle, lay and sweep the road, produce mobile and software etc., make the human life merry on this very Earth.
“Eight-hour day with no cut in pay” was the thunder from 2 lakh workers who protested on Saturday, May 1st, 1886 in various cities especially Chicago in The United States of America. 15-20 hours per day was the mandatory working hours during that era. In order to achieve “Eight hours’ work, Eight hours’ recreation, Eight hours’ rest”, few of them even lost their lives. We, the IT employees’ have to realize that the hours ‘8:00’ that we enter in our time sheets has more than a century long struggle. Whether we (are made to) work only those many number of hours is anybody’s guess.
First of May is not just another day of “celebration” that burns a hole in the pockets of our people. This day marks workers’ unity that establishes over artificial and natural differences amongst people such as race, color, gender, caste, religion, nationality and language. This “International Workers’ Day” is to remember the struggles that were made in order to obtain the rights of working class and establish world peace. As the path to establish rights of working class is still miles long, this revolutionary day is to revitalize ourselves in marching towards accomplishing them.
We, employees of IT sector are approximately 37 lakhs in attendance in India. 30%, i.e 11 lakh of this workforce comprises of women employees. ‘May Day’ – How is this day still relevant to us? Have you ever thought why there is not a regulated working hours per day/week across company/Industry? “Should we work to live or live to work?” “What is the purpose of running behind money?” If you have come across these questions, then this May Day is still relevant for us too.
“Hire and Fire” is the norm of workers’ engagement in our industry. When a company – big or small decides to throw away a section of employees from their employment, there is no existent government mechanism that can question this decision. Be it long working hours, work overload, promotion, salary hike, location transfer, project transfer, leaves or on-site opportunity, in the current situation employees do not have the empowerment to question whenever they feel they are being victimized at their workplace. ‘Background Checks’ – which is used to keep track of employees is an indirect weapon and ‘forced resignations’ is a direct weapon possessed by IT/ITES companies. These weapons are used by the companies to silence the employees whenever they raise their voice for their rights. Marriage and Child Care responsibilities have become to be a hindrance for job continuation of women employees in IT sector.
The above said problems are prevalent in the organized and unorganized private sectors of this country. Crores of people are working in the private sector in the name of apprentices/trainees, permanent/contract workers. They undergo unquestionable exploitation by small companies to big corporates. Recently thousands of garment workers, most of them women paralyzed the activity of Bengaluru city to ensure that the government allow their hard earned PF money be withdrawn at their own will. Central government withdrew the amendment to Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Act,1952 as it felt that the struggle will spread across the country. Similarly, when 25,000 employees of TCS were at the brink of illegal termination, Forum for IT Employees (FITE) intervened the layoff via campaigns, protests and legal struggles and saved their livelihood. All through out history, it had been unity and collective resistance that had won the rights of people. Let us wholly wish such spirit imbibes us and drives us towards securing our rights at our workplace.
Collective Resistance is Our Strength and Unionization is Our Constitutional Right.