The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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IT firms unite against union
- Employers get together before employees

Calcutta, Nov. 7: Employees in IT and IT-enabled services are not yet convinced about the need to unite under an association sponsored by Citu, but their employers have already come together.

Senior officials from over 100 companies — like Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro, Cognizant, Globsyn and Skytech — attended a meeting at International Tower in the Salt Lake Electronics Complex, the state’s IT hub, to work out strategies to counter what they consider the impending threat of unionisation. The attendance at the meeting was a clear indication of the industry’s concern.

The meeting was held seven days before Citu, the CPM’s labour arm, officially launches the West Bengal IT Services Association.

Organised by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry — the Salt Lake IT Initiative, the proceedings started with a consensus against external intervention in the form of unions.

Participants said that in an employee-driven industry, employers were the best people to look after the welfare of the workers.

From terminating services of employees enrolling with unions to blacklisting union-affiliated professionals in the industry — the IT companies are exploring various options to keep the West Bengal IT Services Association at bay.

The right to form an association or a union is a fundamental right, which cannot be curbed.

At a rally in the heart of the IT industry on November 14, the association’s leaders will issue a call to employees to join up.

“Ours is just an association and we will hold the rally, which will be attended by employees in the IT sector and representatives from various other industries,” said Shyamal Chakraborty, chief adviser to the association and Citu leader.

At the employers’ gathering, the idea of an alternative platform suggested by a section was as unwelcome as the association about to be born.

“There is no need for anything like this…. All the companies have their own well-defined interactive platform, which the employees assess regularly,” said an IT industry source.

The IT companies believe that even if the allegations levelled by Citu — “inhuman work schedule and low payment” — are true, unions cannot solve the problem.

“It has to be addressed by the government’s labour department, which can always penalise a company for not following the rules,” said the source.

The representatives of the companies agreed on the need to streamline regulatory issues like provident fund and ESI benefits for workers involved in outsourced functions like security, cafeteria and vehicle management.

“There is a history of unions and strikes in the state. So, any negative publicity will harm business prospects. We have already started getting enquiries from international partners and clients,” said a source.

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