IT employees group moves SC amid mass terminations, forced leaves
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IT employees group moves SC amid mass terminations, forced leaves

National Information Technology Employees (NITE) Sena, an organization of Information Technology (IT) employees, has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court for the protection of their jobs and salaries, and regarding other decisions that had been creating a conflict of interest with their employers.

On March 29, the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment issued an advisory, directing private and public sector companies not to terminate employees or cut their salaries amid the COVID-19 crisis. Despite that, many IT firms, and KPO and BPO companies have turned hostile to their employees.

The present petition was filed on April 27 by Raghunath Kuchik, general secretary of Bhartiya Kamgar Sena and Member of Maharashtra Legislative Council, along with NITE Sena. “Many companies are not following official procedures like notice period, intimation to government employees, leave encashment or compensatory payments,” Kuchik told The Federal.

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If court issues orders in our favour, the economic and social impact of the lockdown on employees can be minimized, he said.

Praful Sarda, a team member on special duty with the state government and one of the petitioners said, “Many companies have forced their employees to leave their jobs or opt for unpaid leaves. Some employees have also been terminated without prior notice and hence facing financial troubles. So, we felt that we must do something for them and we initiated the PIL process.”

The PIL provides details about illegal mass termination drives in private companies, and withholding and deduction of salaries in complete breach of the advisory. It demands the protection of the rights of IT employees under Article 14 of the Constitution that assures equality to every individual.

An employee who had been put ‘on the bench’ by his company told The Federal, “One day we got a conference call from our bosses, who told us we had been put on the bench [they will not be allotted the task for time being]. We did not receive any salary, and when asked upon, they said we would get it only after 45 days. This clearly indicates our termination. I’m afraid I will lose my job.”

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He said no employee has received any written communication from the company. “One of my colleagues could not get a new job as he had no proof for his previous employment.” This is just an example of what is happening across half of the IT companies, says Sarda.

Like NITE Sena and the Labour Commission of Maharashtra, Forum for Information Technology Employees (FITE) — another organization that works for the rights of IT employees in the state — received hundreds of complaints last month.

The state coordinator of FITE told The Federal, “We have received complaints from more than 300 companies in Pune and Mumbai. Employees are struggling even for their survival in the cities.” As IT companies provide huge salaries, many had adapted to a costly lifestyle and had borrowed a lot of loans, she said. “The sudden stoppage in income has badly been affecting them on the financial as well social front,” she added.

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