Amid talk of layoffs, Labour department holds discussions with IT firms

The Tamil Nadu Labour Department on Monday held a meeting with officials of IT firms and The National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom), amid complaints by unions of mass layoffs in the industry.

The department invited Nasscom along with 19 IT companies, including Cognizant, Infosys, Wipro, Tech Mahindra, Verizon and Tata Consultancy Services, for a discussion at the Tamil Nadu Labour Welfare Board Building in Chennai. The initiative was taken following a spate of complaints by the Union of IT and ITeS employees (UNITE) and All India Forum for IT/ITeS Employees (AIFITE).

Details sought

“We have asked for certain details from the IT companies who attended the meeting. We have asked them to provide data on EPF contributions to check whether there are any retrenchments (as the unions are claiming),” an official from the Labour department told The Hindu. The firms said that they would get back with the details in the next few days, he added.

The unions’ representatives said they were not allowed to participate in the meeting. “We have complained that they have been practising illegal retrenchment for a long time. Every year, they send out people in the name of performance appraisal, which is not acceptable,” Alagunambi Welkin, general secretary, UNITE, said.

Though the complaint was raised by employees’ unions, the Office of Labour Commissioner rejected their request to attend the meeting saying only representatives from the company and Nasscomwere allowed, he alleged.

Tripartite meetings

Mr. Welkin urged the Commissioner of Labour to directly hold tripartite meetings to put an end to the illegal mass retrenchment immediately.

Nasscom refused to comment. Officials of two IT majors that The Hindu reached out to said that it was a general meeting, and refused to divulge details.

The issue cropped up last month when Cognizant said it would remove about 10,000-12,000 mid-to-senior level associates worldwide from their current roles in the coming quarters.

There was also news that Infosys was planning to send out about 2,200 “non-performers”. Denying it was a mass layoff, Infosys said that it was involuntary attrition, which was integral to the normal course of business.

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