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POLL: FITE to hold protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi against terminations

FITE said it would hold a protest in Delhi today at 1 pm against what it called unjust termination of staff by TCS.

TCS had, in its earnings press conference yesterday, asserted that the company had a policy of ‘involuntary attrition’ of those who failed to keep up with performance requirements.

It also said only around 1,000 people from its India staff this year, and even these people are being let go with compensation including three months of gross pay.

There have been allegations that staff are told to go with just one month’s notice.

Globally, the layoff number will be around 3,000, or about 1% of the company’s total workforce, the company said. In addition to the three months of pay, the company also offers services of placement agencies and allows the employee to continue with the health cover under the company’s group policy till the end of the year, TCS said

CEO N. Chandrasekaran said he was sensitive to the issues of the employees and all efforts are being made to minimize ‘involuntary attrition’.

The clarifications followed the Forum for IT Employees (FITE)’s decision to carry on with agitations to prevent termination of employees after the Madras High Court temporarily stayed one such case.

Earlier this week, an employee, who was given a termination letter, had raised a dispute under section 2A of India’s Industrial Dispute Act in Labour office at Kuralagam, Chennai. The employee is a member of FITE, according to the forum’s website.

The interim order by the High Court will restrain the TCS from giving effect to the order of termination of service of the petitioner issued by it on 22nd December 2014 for four weeks from the effect of today.

TCS, like other IT companies Infosys and Wipro, lets go off a small percentage of its employees every year under ‘involuntary attrition’, usually because of business reasons. As IT companies work from project to project, their requirements for manpower fluctuates. In addition, they often let go off those that they categorize as ‘under performers’.

In this instance, TCS is reportedly letting go off ‘C’ graders in the company’s system of ranking employees according to their performance. The highest ranked employees, who exceed all expectations and deliver exceptionally well, are ranked as ‘A’, those below them ‘B’, average workers ‘C’, and those who failed to meet their targets as ‘D’ and so on.

TCS has maintained that the company is letting go off employees as part of its yearly routine and no larger than usual retrenchments are being made.

However, with over 300,000 employees on its rolls, even a 1% retrenchment works out to 3000 terminations.

With software and automation restricting the need for new employees, many experienced IT workers are finding it harder to find a job. Being laid off as an ‘underperformer’ makes it even tougher for them to find jobs.

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“I can’t accept the label of non-performer. I’ll fight legally against the TCS management, my self-respect is at stake, said one of the TCS employee, according to FITE.

In the labor petition, the employee argued she is not an under performer and she could not be thrown out of the company like this.

“The employee has to be protected under section (33) of Industrial Dispute Act, 1947. It also requested to invoke the conciliation proceedings immediately to resolve the dispute. Following this, a writ was filed in the Madras High Court to give directions to the Labour office to commence the conciliation immediately and until then the status quo is to be maintained. Senior Advocate Ms. Ramapriya and the Senior Counsel Mr. V.Prakash took up this case as a challenge and succeeded in getting the STAY for the termination,” said FITE in an update.

The interim order was issued by the Judge Duraisamy in Madras High court, this afternoon. “This is a remarkable moment in the last three weeks of campaign against TCS Layoff commenced on Dec 21, 2014,” the forum continued.

“This interim order is meant more than the literal meaning it holds,” the forum said. “This is a spark… We will invoke all our constitutional rights, labour rights for our job security. And we will stand together cutting across the domains, technologies, delivery centres, companies, locations.”

FITE will continue to explore legal means for the rights provided in our constitution, it said.

“However, we are well aware that legal means alone will not resolve all the issues and hardships faced by the IT/ITES employees. FITE will strive hard to align up the IT/ITES employees under one network and take forward the struggle for the rights and welfare of the IT/ITES employees.”
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