The basic rights of workers in India are under serious threat now. The increasing contractualization of permanent jobs, poor working conditions, questionable job security and constant fear of future is the state of the working class now. Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution of India guarantees to all its citizens the right “to form associations and unions”. Kumar Jayant, Principal Secretary, Labour and Employment Department reiterated it clearly that “IT Company employees are free to form a trade union and can redress their grievances by evoking the provisions of Industrial Disputes Act 1947. It is also informed that no IT industry has been exempted from the provisions of Industrial Disputes Act 1947,” while replying to a letter seeking clarification in 2016.
Though it is our constitutional right to form unions to raise our voice collectively to ensure our employment rights, it is completely denied by the IT companies. IT workers are facing many kind of harassment at workplace. Forced Resignations, Forced Long working hours, Forced to work on public holidays, Denied Maternity Leaves Rights, Denied Project Change/Transfer, Wage Discrepancies, Ineffective Grievance Redressal Committees and Sexual Harassment Complaints Committees etc., The lack of awareness on unionization and poor working conditions makes the IT workers personal as well as professional life more stressful and sometimes forces them to end their precious life.
But there are ray of hopes in recent years. Last year Google workers organized for Walkout protest across their development centres against the poor practices in dealing with sexual harassment complaints and injustices done to women workers. Google Workers Walkout protest was one of the widely talked workers activism in Tech Industry which has sent lot of hope fellow workers. In general, the changing attitude towards union, increased no of disputes from IT workers and solutions with the help of union is a positive sign in trade union activism in IT sector in recent years.
Not only IT companies, even workers in other industries face the same problem, but they are more aware of their rights and know how to fight for their rights collectively. The recent uncompromising YAMAHA workers fight for their right to form association is one great example. In India, Workers are forced to struggle to safeguard even their constitutional rights. The government instead of monitoring the enforcement of labour laws strictly and safeguarding the workers’ rights is simply increasing the police force in the Industrial areas to serve for the profit interest of the corporates. The policies of governments are continuously changed to deal with the current economic crisis across world without any concern to workers’ rights.
Every year the 1st day of the May month is commemorated as International Workers’ Day. It is declared so to honour the working class struggle which happened in the 19th century in US to claim their right of “Eight hours work, Eight hours rest and Eight hours for what they wish”. Workers had even lost their lives for this right. This is continuous fight to change the profit interests and the exploitative nature of the current economic model.
The World working class is growing stronger and on streets to fight for quality education, employment, health care and social security. On this May Day, F.I.T.E wishes to say that we are strong only when we united. Let’s unionize to protect our fundamental right to live a dignified life. Let’s stand in solidarity with all the struggles of working class across the world.