Satyam crisis output: 17,000 job seekers

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By G.S. RADHAKRISHNA in Hyderabad
  • Published 8.01.09
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Hyderabad, Jan. 8: Insecure and agitated, Satyam employees grimly walked into their office this morning to receive an email from their acting CEO preparing them “for the worst”.

They were asked to sign a declaration of faith in the interim management and give an undertaking to accept a pay cut “if necessary”.

Asked by a reporter for his reaction, one employee snapped at him: “How would you feel if you were in my position?”

An official with a job portal said employment sites had received 17,000 CVs from Satyam’s 53,000 employees — from one in three — in the past few days.

“Today the market is not such that they will be absorbed easily,” said Karthik Shekhar, general secretary of Unites, a global outfit representing techies.

Most Satyam employees have decided not to take leave for the January 12-14 Sankranti festival. “Earlier, at least 40 per cent staff would be on leave and would seek festival advances, but this year hardly 6 per cent have sought leave,” an executive said.

Employees said they did not wish to be away at a time the company HR would be making crucial decisions. Also, they wanted to be available for the head-hunters they had approached.

Some 4,500 employees, however, have spotted a temporary lifeline since chairman B. Ramalinga Raju quit yesterday and said company profits had been inflated over several years.

Satyam had recently “benched” 8,500 with salary cuts for want of projects, and later sacked 4,000 of them. “But for this crisis, the remaining 4,500 would have been booted out this month at the time of third-quarter results,” a middle-level executive said.

But the results may be put off now. Besides, almost everybody is in the same boat.

Acting CEO Ram Mynampati’s mail this morning apologised for the “uncertainty and inconvenience”, warned of a “tumultuous quarter”, sought employees’ “involvement and ideas” and prepared them for “sacrifices and overload”. A techie said: “We anticipate a 20 to 30 per cent salary cut.”

By afternoon, most desks were empty at the complex as the techies sneaked out to watch CNBC on the fate of Raju. Most said Raju was a good employer but spent very little time with them. “We hardly got to see him, nor did our project leaders encourage us to,” said a middle-level executive.

Later, as the first shift gathered to punch their cards, they were asked to assemble near the gates and put their handprints on a banner carrying the slogan “Spirit of Satyam”.

“We have just two options: fight it out together or look for jobs elsewhere,” a techie said.

Satyam’s rivals, expected to pitch for the company’s clients including General Electric, Nestle and Qantas, may be able to absorb some employees.

“If the employees go with the business, I reckon 55-60 per cent will find work,” said Mohandas Pai, HR director at Infosys. “Clients are likely to retain project managers and developers. So, in a worst-case scenario, about 40 per cent of employees are at risk.”