About 10, 000 Indian employees of global technology consulting giant Accenture may be rendered jobless as the company moves to cut down at least 5% of its global workforce, it has been reported. This news comes even as trade unions of Information Technology (IT) and IT Enabled Services (ITES) employees have termed the ongoing retrenchments during the pandemic as illegal and are challenging the multinational companies (MNCs) legally while campaigning among employees to unionise -- at office or company level and regional or cluster levels to launch an united struggle to secure their jobs.
Globally, Accenture employs 5 lakh people including 2 lakh workforce in India, meaning its 5% cut off equates to 25,000 people worldwide and 10,000 in India.
Previously, unions have estimated that MNCs such as Cognizant, Wipro, Hexaware, International Business Machines (IBM) Corp. and Capgemini and so on have enforced illegal retrenchments forcing more than 25,000 IT & ITES employees to lose employment in the country during this pandemic period.
“We will legally fight if mass retrenchments in Accenture take place. But, we are already receiving numerous complaints from the company’s employees about their removals,” said Suraj Nidiyanga, Secretary of Karnataka State IT/ITeS Employees Union (KITU). He added that the union has submitted memorandums concerning mass retrenchments to the state labour commission against 36 MNCs during the pandemic.
KITU, Union of IT & ITES Employees (UNITE), Forum of IT Employees, All India Forum for IT Employees (AIFITE) and other trade unions in the sector are also campaigning among employees to not to resign if their companies force them to do so.
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“The profit and revenue even during the pandemic-induced global lockdown had not reduced and some sections of business were even growing. In spite of continuing profit and revenue, these IT & ITES MNCs are illegally retrenching employees in the name of role rationalisation, cost-cutting, growth plan, performance appraisal, etc.,” said Alagunambi Welkin, general secretary of UNITE.
Welkin added that the MNCs are committing such illegal layoffs publicly but the state and central governments have turned a blind eye to such acts. “Trade unions are campaigning among employees to form office level unions to protect their rights. These unions in the sector across regions are coordinating to launch an united struggle against the unjust labour practices in MNCs in the country,” he added.
Industry observers are now predicting that about 5% or over 2 lakh employees in the IT or ITES sector may lose their jobs over the next few quarters due to the COVID-19 disruptions.
“You will see a minimum of 3-5% of the weight being shed in almost every IT company, particularly the big 20, because of COVID-19 and not performance-related issues,” B S Murty, chief executive officer of HR consultancy firm, Leadership Capital Consulting, was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, AIFITE has started an online petition on change.org against the recent layoffs in Cognizant. “The management terminated illegally & unethically many of their employees recently using this pandemic situation as an opportunity though they are achieving good profit unlike other industries since the employees with projects are working from home,” reads the petition.
Furthermore, AIFITE has alleged that Cognizant has intentionally kept 18,000 people on bench (benched employees are non-billable to clients) and about 27,000 employees are rated with poor performance. It added that the management is now targeting employees having 10 years of experience and threatening to lay them off.