Assistant Labour Commissioner Nikhil Walke on Thursday held a reconciliation meeting between three IT majors, a telecom major, and their employees who had been laid off. Earlier, Walke’s office had received petitions from the employees of Cognizant, Tech Mahindra, Wipro and Vodafone. Spearheaded by the Forum of IT Employees (FITE), employees in Pune had knocked on the doors of the labour commissioner against their retrenchment which, they said, was illegal.
It has been estimated that Pune may see more than 10,000-15,000 lay-offs, most of them in the mid-management category. Employees have alleged that they were pressurised to resign and in some cases, were terminated without being granted a hearing. They claimed that they were finding it difficult to get jobs as the general perception was that they were laid off because of performance issues. The employees also claimed that they were deprived of their full and final settlement and in some cases, were not even allowed to claim their mediclaim benefits. The companies have consistently denied allegations of mass lay-offs.
During the reconciliation meeting, personnel from the Human Resources department of Cognizant, Tech Mahindra and Vodafone appeared before Walke and denied the allegations again. Wipro’s management failed to turn up for the meeting. Some of the companies also raised questions about whether the Industrial Dispute Act was applicable to them, while some pointed to their location in Special Economic Zones, which exempted them from labour laws.
After the meeting, Walke said he will go through details and intricacies of the laws governing the sector. He admitted that this was the first time his office had received petitions from IT companies in such large numbers. “After eight days, we will call another meeting between the companies and the employees to guide them further,” he said. Elavarasan Raja, a member of FITE, said as the lay-offs have continued, more and more employees have been getting in touch with the forum to express their willingness to file fresh petitions.
“Almost 40 employees have filed petitions, which were heard before the labour commissioner,” he said. On Thursday, employees of Syntel also filed fresh petitions.Elavarasan said the FITE was in the process of acquiring a formal registration. “We will be working for employees’ welfare in the sector,” he said.