IT employees’ unions meet Labour Commissioner over Cognizant, Infosys lay-off

Hyderabad: As potential lay-offs have been announced by tech giants such as Infosys and Cognizant, talks between IT employees unions and the government are going on. As per reports, Infosys could lay off as many as 12,000 people while Cognizant is removing 7,000 jobs, which could adversely affect software employees based in major cities. 

Kiran Chandra, president for Forum of IT Professionals, Hyderabad said, “Retrenchments have been going on since the past few years, and we have been raising our voices against it on a consistent basis. IT companies are violating the law of the land. 67 people have filed cases in the Telangana High Court against the Labour department’s inaction so far. As of now, we are fighting legally and simultaneously meeting the Labour department for talks today.”

Although retrenchments are different from lay-offs, both are known to detrimentally affect the career of an IT employee. While in lay-off, employees may be re-called after the lay-off period is over, retrenchment involves a full termination of service. “If the companies want to lay-off, they need to obtain prior permission from the government and pay appropriate compensation. All these companies are illegally doing away with their employees, along with the baggage of labelling them “non-performers”. This is criminal. When there is a change in the nature of the work, it is the duty of the employer to train the employees, instead of sacking them right away. We are talking about employees who have invested the prime-time of their youth for these companies” added Kiran Chandra. 

The secretary of  Karnataka IT employees’ union, said, “We had approached Karnataka State Labour department and met the Labour Commissioner yesterday. Retrenchment is against Article 5 B of Industrial Disputes Act.  They have said that they will look into the issue. Actually, Cognizant has sent emails to 900-1,000 employees, suggesting a lay-off.  They have officially sent emails saying that they are closing up one of their departments. The company says that it is following the growth restructuring and rationalisation policy of the company. Infosys had also sent emails to 10 per cent of its mid-level executives.”

As per the Industrial Disputes Act, any company that employs more than 100 employees, need to obtain permission from the respective state’s labour department to execute lay-offs. The employer is also requested to pay 50% of the total of basic and Dearness Allowance during the period Infosys and Cognizant lay-off. Rebranding a dismissal by calling it voluntary resignation is also illegal as per labour laws.

The country’s economic slowdown has become a significant cause for concern among IT employees, who believe that they are bearing the brunt now. An employee who works in Cognizant, Pune, says, “There is an economic slowdown in the country. Moreover, after the new CEO Brian Humphries took charge, they have been cutting costs desperately. It was heard that several promotions and hikes were on hold, and many mid-level executives are going to be sacked. It means that they plan to make the junior employees work extra, and do away with the senior workers who need to be paid more. It was not the case a few years back when people could get opportunities, promotions and salary revisions on time.”


She also added that the US-based service company Cognizant is also planning to exit its content moderation business for clients like Facebook.

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is currently Reporter with Newsmeter based in Hyderabad. She was teaching in the Dept. of Journalism and Mass Communication, NEHU Shillong for the past one year. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University, she has interned with Greater Kashmir newspaper and Newslaundry.

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