Are IT companies spreading canards with PR firms to justify job cuts?



Indian IT companies have been illegally terminating employees since April this year. Unfortunately, Modi Government is mute on IT sector layoffs.

During the American Presidential elections last year, lobbyists downplayed Trump’s supporters and ridiculed his opinion on several issues. After his victory, the Trump administration introduced several changes in the H-1B visa program to make sure American workers are not replaced by foreigners. Trump’s signal was clear from day one; he wants companies to hire more American workers.

CNN and Reuters recently released news reports about how Indian companies are hiring more graduates in the US due to Trump’s policies. Now it’s obvious, IT companies would have to shrink its offshore headcount to hire American graduates. That’s exactly what they did.

Companies knew that massive layoffs in India would result in legal consequences, including action from labor ministry. Layoffs would also impact their brand identity in a negative way.

Perhaps, to dilute the situation and to justify job cuts, IT companies started spreading canards using PR firms. Business news portals and newspapers started publishing stories about how automation in the IT sector and artificial intelligence can result in job cuts. News reports suddenly started portraying Indian software engineers as “dumb,” underprepared to adopt new technology, and “non-productive”.

News reports about job cuts started making it in the headlines since April this year. As expected, companies tagged all the selected workers as non-performers and asked them to resign. These theatrics continued until the conversation between Tech-Mahindra employee and its HR executive went viral on social media.

News channel Mirror Now (Editor Faye D’Souza) was the only channel that not only debated on the topic for several days but also questioned the IT companies and govt.

After facing criticism, Anand Mahindra, CEO C P Gurnani, and VC-Vineet Nayyar apologized to the employee and assured that company won’t deal with employees in such manner again.

Even those holding on their jobs are not safe. Many companies have put employees’ performance pay for 2016 on hold. Work pressure in almost all IT companies has been increased by management to such levels that engineers would prefer to resign instead of suffering torture on a daily basis.

Extremely incompetent politicians

Labour departments in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Telangana have received hundreds of complaints regarding illegal termination of employees. Several related cases are pending in courts as well. Cities like Bangalore and Pune witnessed many cases of techie suicides due to IT sector slow down.

Even in such situation, India’s IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad declined to accept the reality and said news about job cuts were “motivated.”

While highlighting a report from NASSCOM about jobs generated by IT sector during the last three years, Prasad said employees who were recently fired must be non-performers.

This statement was made multiple times by the minister and was definitely misleading. It also proved that the government does not have any blueprint to deal with this issue.

The absence of pro-employee labor laws and missing labor unions are making hire and fire easy for IT companies. There is no one to question their behavior because challenging such companies with the help of corporate lawyers in court is not everyone’s cup of tea.

It’s obvious that govt won’t like to act in such matter; hope the SC takes suo moto cognizance and forms SIT to look into layoffs in India. Until then, companies would probably continue terminating employees illegally and take undue advantage of certain clauses related to performance on the appointment letter.

 

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