For the first time in India, it has been confirmed that IT employees are free to form trade unions for various purposes. Before this confirmation, there was ambiguity on the question of trade unions inside IT industry.
As per the clarification, IT employees are governed by the same rules which cover other employees from various industries; hence the labour laws applicable is same on all employees in India, which includes IT industry as well.
This clarification was received after one of the most active trade unions in India: New Democratic Labour Front (NDLF) asked Tamil Nadu Govt. about the same.
Kumar Jayant, Principal Secretary, Labour and Employment Department replied to the IT Wing of NDLF: “IT company employees are free to form a trade union and can redress their grievances by evoking the provisions of Industrial Disputes Act 1947. It is also informed that no IT industry has been exempted from the provisions of Industrial Disputes Act 1947,”
What Can Change Now?
There can be several implications of this clarification, as trade unions are known for their aggressive stand on moral, ethical and management issues; and as observed in Left-dominated states like West Bengal and Kerala, trade unions can disrupt an entire industry if their ‘demands’ are not met.
Until now, there has been no instance of a strike (in traditional sense) inside an IT company due to trade unions; but now, things can change a bit.
For instance, in May last year, when Syntel was reportedly laying off 3000 employees, then the same IT Wing of NDLF protested and condemned the action.
S Karpagavinayagam, organizer of NDLF- IT employees wing, had said at that time, “Our union strongly condemns this illegal and unethical labour practice by Syntel. IT employees should also be able to protect their rights through a labour body, just like workers of other sectors,”
Although there was no recognition of any trade union within IT industries at that time, NDLF demanded to the Govt. that such forceful terminations be stopped.
During the TCS firing case in 2014-15, NDLF workers actually assembled infront of TCS office in Chennai to ‘show solidarity’ with the employees. They also distributed pamphlets and brochures at Bangalore, Chennai and Delhi to create awareness about the issue.
As per Karpagavinayagam, any IT company needs atleast 7 employees to start a trade union wing.
IT Industry Rejects Any Effect of Trade Union
However, IT Industry has responded to the formation of trade union as a less-serious activity, and some officials have stated that it will make no difference to the overall structure and functioning of the industry.
As per some unnamed officials, IT Industry’s structure is divided into teams, team leaders, managers, executives etc., besides most of the employees are migrants from other states, and they are salaries are structured as per industry standards. Hence, the effect of trade unions won’t work here.
Note here, that NDLF had earlier filed a petition in Madras High Court against the State Govt. for not following Court’s order to ‘decide whether IT Industry would be covered under Industrial Disputes Act or not.’.
NDLF has said, “This confirmation by the government brings to light the rights of IT employees in no uncertain terms.”
Do you think that creation of Trade Unions inside IT Companies will change a lot of things? If you are an IT employee, then we would appreciate your opinion on this issue."IT Employees Can Now Form Trade Unions Says T.N Govt; But Industry Says It Doesn’t Matter",