Friday, November 28, 2008

Protest Against Longer Working Hours by an IT-BPO Union

My post today would actually be about a current news with the Business Process Outsourcing industry.

It is very much known that many of the industries today, especially the Business Process Outsourcing sector, sometimes would need "extended" working hours as to have the job done. And as per law and mandate that the regular working duration is eight hours a day, companies require to pay for the overtime.

But there has been a recent problem that has been identified in most IT firms in India. These firms allegedly has an "arbitrary policy" reportedly enforcing longer working hours that violate this working mandate. Because of this, the Union for Information & Technology Enabled Services (UNITES) Indian section has plans to file a PIL or public interest litigation.

UNITES is affiliated to the Indian National Trade Union Congress (Intuc). It is also India’s first union in the IT-BPO sector. It claims to have around ten per cent of the total IT-BPO workforce of two million as members, and stated the numbers have been rising over the last two months on the back of lay-offs in the sector. UNITES is also part of Union Network International (UNI), which has over sixteen million workers in thirteen different sectors from 163 countries.

On the part of these IT sectors, they are saying that workers are still working for eight hours in one day, six times a week, therefore this is not a violation. And since most companies work for only five days, this , they say, creates the wrong idea.

R Karthik Shekhar, UNITES’ secretary general for India does not buy their response. He then speaks about the Business Standard. "The labour law in India allows an eight-hour working day, whereas in most IT companies in India people are involuntarily working for over 12 hours daily," he stated.

He also says that this is just a business strategy of many IT companies in the country. And he calls this tactic "a double standard by the IT firms, who, on the one hand are firing people saying they are not getting enough work, and on the other hand, forcing employees to work more since they are getting more work".

But it seems that few of the workers tend not to agree with the idea of the union. "In call centres people are used to long working hours. During peak season (December-January), they work even 14 hours a day. But now due to the ongoing crisis, expectation levels are very high. Performance is being monitored frequently," a team leader working with vCustomer stated.

And the companies actually act on it seriously. "Earlier we could extend our project deliveries by a day or two. Now the management has mandated to deliver by the deadline otherwise it will be marked on performance sheet. Our performance is being evaluated every week. This was a norm from earlier times, but now the management is taking it seriously," a software engineer with Satyam Computers added.

Infosys Technologies HR head TV Mohandas Pai explains and makes a statement about this issue. "The IT industry in India still follows the best practices it had introduced earlier. But this does not mean employees will work less. If they are being asked to stick to duty hours, this will increase the productivity," he explains.

Well, lets wait and see how this problem gets fixed.


Linker said...

I think that if the work is in need for an overtime, it should be paid the proper salary. It is a mandate and it should be follow, whereas the work is not needed to be in an overtime the exact salary should still be given.

Max said...

yup, I agree, work should be properly compensated.