WB: IT Employees Fighting Against Retrenchment, Layoffs With the Help of CITU-Affiliated Union
Rally of All india it and ites employees union
Kolkata: Tapas Adhikary (35), name changed on request, was an employee with Netscribe, a company with multiple locations in the country. In March 2022, the company project manager called Adikary, a permanent employee, to his cubicle and asked him to choose between termination or a salary cut of over 35%. Along with the salary cut, Adhikary was also asked to work as a contract employee.
None of the two options were favourable for Adhikary. He was told that his CTC (at the time) was too high to be included in any project. He was ultimately handed a termination letter on March 13. The company refused to pay his dues.
Following that, Adhikary contacted the All India IT and ITeS Employees' Union active in the Saltlake area of Kolkata. The union leadership advised Adhikary to raise a complaint with the Labour Commissionerate. After two hearings, the company was asked to pay Adhikary his gratuity and PF dues. Despite that, he did not get the full settlement amount. The company was forced to release an experience certificate.
"Whatever I received was due to the role of the CITU-affiliated IT union and our combined fight," Adhikary told NewsClick.
He now works for another IT company. He told NewsClick that most of his colleagues were similarly forced to resign, and the company refused to pay them their gratuity dues.
"Because they resigned, they were ineligible for the company schemes like a two-month salary in lieu of termination. Our union showed us how to resist in such situations."
NewsClick spoke with Cheenangshu Das, general secretary of the IT union. He said that the union has been proactive in helping beleaguered employees of IT companies where layoffs have become regular.
"In many recent cases, we lodged complaints with the Labour Commissionerate. In most cases, the commission decided in our favour. However, the commission's power is being curtailed in the name of the new labour codes. We are currently mobilising people to demand the scrapping of the new labour codes."
NewsClick also talked to Surajit Bose, president of the union, who said the union is trying to expand its footprints in Eastern India.
"Apart from our membership campaign in the Saltlake electronic complex of sector 5, we have extended our membership to Hooghly's Polba region and Siliguri."
The hardware industry of the state is concentrated in the Polba region. The software industry has a presence in Siliguri.
"The union has a total strength of 5500 members in West Bengal. The total number of IT workers in the state is about 10 lakh. Before the COVID lockdown, the general perception was that the IT industry was the safest to work in terms of job security; hence, it was considered that there was no need to unionise. However, the COVID pandemic affected the industry. BPP and KPO workers are not paid much, while programmers, who have better wages, currently face job insecurity due to IT layoffs."
Souvik Bhattacharya, All India general secretary of the union, is among those who suffered job losses. He lost his job twice.
Bose pointed out the gender wage gap, highlighting that a female HR manager is paid less than her male counterpart (around 20% less).
"There should be standardisation of salaries and leaves like menstruation leaves should be given. Entry-level jobs have 51% females while that figure is about 25% in the upper echelons," said Brishti Basu (name changed on request).
The union has tried to intervene in cases of forced retrenchments, even resorting to going to the Supreme Court. Most industry professionals do not have any medical insurance coverage; hence, the union is trying to provide them with group insurance coverage.
The union believes the COVID pandemic is being used "to increase exploitation in the unorganised sector."
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