Fired Cognizant Employees Revolt; Will Take Legal Action With Employee Union’s Help
In March this year, we reported a seemingly normal news: $14 billion worth Cognizant was about to terminate 6000 to 10,000 employees in India, which is around 3.3% to 5.5% of their total workforce in India.
We had asked the question: Whether these terminations are due to automation?
We failed to comprehend that this news would not die down, as normally such news of terminations do. We didn’t realise what was coming ahead…
Cognizant Employees Revolt
A section of Cognizant employees from Chennai, who are facing terminations, have decided to revolt against the company, and seek a legal route to solve the equations.
It seems that the company has rolled out a voluntary separation scheme for the top-run, middle managers in the company, and some of them are refusing to leave. As per these employees, Cognizant is resorting to cost cutting, and due to this reason, they are terminating employees.
However, Cognizant president Rajeev Mehta has categorically denied any news of cost-cutting or retrenchment.
He said, “There are no retrenchments. This was part of your annual appraisal cycle and the voluntary separation programme is to ensure we have the right teams and the right skills in areas like digital. I do not want to comment on any unionisation because it would be speculative. But we continue to hire people with the right talent.”
But employees are not convinced, and some of them have approached Tamil Nadu State Labor Department to lodge protests and complaints.
In fact, Cognizant will very soon launch a non-voluntary or forced terminations movement as well, using the yearly appraisal season and it seems this legal route is a pre-emptive strategy against such moves.
The issue is simple: Cognizant is trying to remove those employees, who are now outdated, as they are choosing alternative delivery mechanism and automation on a large scale. Besides, Cognizant has already declared that they will step up hiring in the US.
On the other hand, the employees who are being terminated (voluntarily or involuntarily), are not happy with this decision. They are blaming Cognizant for cost cutting measure, unfair treatment and forced resignations.
And, the most interesting aspect: Trade Unions are being called into this matter, to make it even more complex.
The Return Of Trade Unions In IT Industry
The disgruntled employees, who have approached State Labor Commission, have roped in an influential trade union: The Forum for IT Employees (FITE) into this issue to mediate, and compel Cognizant to reverse their decision.
In fact, FITE had earlier helped an employee from TCS to save his job, when he filed a similar plea in Madras High Court, against such cost cutting measures by TCS.
That employee had won the case.
Now, FITE is mobilising support for this movement against Cognizant’s mass termination move, and the groundwork has already started.
Vinodh AJ, general secretary of FITE said, “We have submitted a representation to the state government as of now. The plan is to formally file for conciliation, which is the first step before the issue can be taken to labour courts,”
Note here, that as per Tamil Nadu Govt.’s order, IT Employees are free to form trade unions, under Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.
How will the industry respond now?
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