The union and intersection of TN’s IT industry
CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government recently clarified that IT and ITES companies also come under the Industrial Disputes Act,1947, and the employees can form trade unions to protect their rights. In a country that boasts of great trade unionists, only a few received the news with applause, while many others do not seem to think much of it.
So, are trade unions going to revolutionise the IT industry or is much ado being made about nothing?
“Trade unions belong to the past century, simply won’t be able to survive in the IT industry,” says Vinu Nair, managing partner at Antal International, a recruitment consultancy. “Even if trade unions are set up, only a few employees will participate as the IT industry itself is unique in its working and trade unions simply won’t fit into this scenario. Moreover, there are so many channels now through which techies can access their management, and there is less chance that distressed employees will approach unions for help,” she said
However, those who have been fighting for the cause for years now feel that trade unions could greatly change the way companies mercilessly lay off their employees with not as much as a notice period. The , which was one of the first of its kind to mobilise a union, has garnered over 600 members since its establishment in December 2014.Forum for IT Employees (FITE)
Parimala, President of the forum, says trade unions will definitely take time to fully take shape and form. “It could take a few years, but it is great that the government has decided to take a stance on the issue. More awareness on trade unions will encourage more employees to join in. For years, it was a myth that IT sectors cannot have an union, and now we finally have a platform to demand our rights and fight against the injustice meted out to us,” she adds.
While Parimala agreed that trade unions will take some time to become strong, Priya Sriram, a Director for People’s Operations (HR), questions if employees stay in a company long enough to become permanent members of a union. “The shelf life of a techie in one company is between nine months and two years. I can say this from having more than 15 years of experience in this sector. So who stays? Who handles the union? Is it in the employees’ best interest to shove all responsibility into a few people’s hands? Moreover, since IT is anyway one of the most organised sectors in comparison to others, there’s no chance that a trade union will even kick off,” feels Priya.
Ganesh Janakiraman, who recruits for ITES companies, says that there is a certain cycle in the sector, which requires new talent for the growth of the company. “If employees end up demanding life-time security from one company, it would compromise on the firm’s growth,” he points out.
While tech bigwigs feel that their employees might not have any interest in joining a trade union, and that it might not cost the company, at least immediately, there is prohibition of trade unions in certain states for specific reasons. Three years ago, Karnataka tried to lift a decade-long exemption of the IT sector from the Industrial Employment Act, but had to retract its stand in a couple of months, due to pressure.
Experts say that since the growth rate of IT sector in Tamil Nadu is not at its best, such a move could hinder expansion of the companies. Professionals from the sector, management and workers alike agree that if trade unions become mandatory, IT companies could take a hit
Trade unions belong to the past century, simply won’t be able to survive in the IT industry. Moreover, there are so many channels through which techies can access their management. there is less chance that they will approach unions Vinu Nair, managing partner at a recruitment consultancy
Government’s move will enable the employees to know their rights and fight corporate terrorism. We just have to wait for the government to take more firm steps and help in setting up these trade unions Karpagavinayagam, Organiser, NDEF – IT wing