Tamil Nadu techies get ready to form IT union for employees amid layoffs

Tamil Nadu techies get ready to form IT union for employees amid layoffs

CHENNAI,May17: A week after employees complained against IT major Cognizant for pink-slipping them, techies in Tamil Nadu are forming a union. More than 100 software professionals have signed up as members. The union, to be called “Forum for IT Employees, Tamil Madu ” will lobby for women’s safety and protect members’ rights by holding IT firms to labour laws, said P Parimala, a techie turned activist heading the mission.

Sources say that though Tamil Nadu has an estimated 4.5 lakh employees in the IT space, many are reluctant to join the union because they worry their employers will disapprove or see them as trouble-makers.

Mohandas Pai, among the co-founders of Infosys, told NDTV, “Nobody will be interested to join these unions. Remember 96% of business comes from outside India, this is not local activity.”

Tamil Nadu clubs with Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh as the states that export the most IT services. Last year, the state changed laws to allow trade unions in the IT sector after hundreds of employees were allegedly laid off by TCS in 2015.

According to a report last year, “Infosys has over 17,000 employees in Chennai, Wipro has 25,000, and TCS, India’s largest software exporter, has 60,000 employees in 13 centres in the state.”

Karnataka has not allowed trade unions at software companies.

Earlier this month, workers dismissed by Congnizant complained to the Tamil Nadu government that the reason cited for their removal – alleged non-performance – was a pretext by the firm to disguise lay-offs. In March, Cognizant trimmed 5% of its total strength of 260,000.

IT employers including Infosys and the government have said media reports and analysis by some head-hunters of a sudden uptick in lay-offs at IT firms are greatly exaggerated. A group of firms and analysts concur that the lay-offs this year will vary between 2 and 3% of the total workforce, higher than the 1-1.5% that the industry has clocked in recent years.