Vol. XLI No. 52 December 24, 2017

TAMIL NADU: IT Employees Union Fights Illegal Retrenchment

KC Gopikumar

“The bouncers pushed me back into my chair and held me by my shoulders till I signed the document. It was an awful experience and I can't begin to tell you how demeaning it was. It was not like I was on the bench. I was performing and they treated me in this terrible manner”, states an employee of VDSI who signed on the dotted line.

VDSI (Verizon Data Services India) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the US-based Verizon Communications Inc having its operations in India for so many years, employing thousands of young engineers. VDSI has recently retrenched 993 employees in Chennai and Hyderabad. In its Chennai Taramani and RMZ campus, more than 200 employees have been sent out illegally.

Pink slips and the IT Industry are pretty synonymous these days. In the first six months of this fiscal year, six major IT firms, including Cognizant, Infosys and Wipro, reportedly reduced their headcount by over 4,000.

VDSI followed the suit and illegally retrenched 993 employees in band 7 to band 3 category, throughout the country. The employees ranging from one year to 15 years experienced are retrenched in this exercise. VDSI has executed this unlawful retrenchment in the name of “role rationalisation”. The worst affected are employees working for VDSI in Chennai and Hyderabad. On December 12, 2017 morning, employees have been asked to meet the role rationalization panel and forced to sign full and final settlement agreement along with resignation letter, without any other option. As soon as the agreement is signed, their identity card and company assets were taken away and were escorted by securities to the parking lot.

VDSI, a multinational IT company has not followed the law of the land; it neither got the permission from the government of Tamil Nadu nor from the labour authorities for the massive retrenchment of its employees.

On this illegal retrenchment in VDSI, on December 13, 2017, UNITE – Union of IT and ITES Employees – has raised the issue with labour commissioner, and requested him to investigate. Based on our request, the labour commissioner had sent inspector of labour to investigate on VDSI’s premises and had a discussion with VDSI representatives on the same day evening. Following that, on December 15, 2017  the deputy labour commissioner Tamil Nadu  had called for a tripartite meeting with VDSI's representatives and UNITE’s representatives. Around 4.45 pm, the meeting started and two representatives from VDSI’s legal team along with a hired lawyer and four of our members of UNITE represented and put forth the points of the company’s anti-employees policies which tantamount the retrenchment as illegal. For UNITE’s question of illegal retrenchment, VDSI’s legal team has blatantly denied of any retrenchment; they claimed there has been no termination or forced resignation in VDSI and also added that news from various media are false. Countering the blatant lies, UNITE representatives had strongly condemned the arguments and showed the media reports that its own HR department has reported about the issue. Then the management took a back seat and asked us for a specific complaint in this regard and the matter has been posted to December 20.

UNITE has taken this issue among the IT techies and called upon the IT & ITES employees to stand with the affected employees and show solidarity against the erroneous inhuman management. UNITE demands the government of Tamil Nadu to re-instate the workers who have been illegally retrenched, to take necessary punitive action against the VDSI management and to strictly implement the law of land.