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'Restructuring' TCS lops off thousands of jobs, say staff

Ravi Menon,NV Vijayakumar & Drimi Chauduri,Bengaluru/Kolkata, Jan 3, 2015, DHNS: 11:34 IST

Allege that labour commissioners were not informed about layoffs

India's largest information technology services player Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is reportedly in the process of laying off thousands of employees over the next few days from its regional offices across the country. PTI file photo
India’s largest information technology services player Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is reportedly in the process of laying off thousands of employees over the next few days from its regional offices across the country.

Although TCS employees could not confirm exact numbers, IT unions in Kolkata, Bengaluru and Kochi claimed that the figure could be as high as 25,000. The company, however, refuted the figure and called it a routine shake-up of non-performers, what its HR staff called “work optimisation”.

Shaken by the scale of the current retrenchment, TCS employees have taken to social media. Employees who received pink slips in Bengaluru, Chennai and Kochi have also complained to the labour commissioners in these cities about the action which they claimed were taken in violation of the Industrial Disputes Act of 1947.

Karnataka Labour Commissioner D S Vishwanath said on Friday that the TCS termination issue is yet to come before the department.

“We haven’t got any formal complaint from any employees. If we get it, we will take appropriate action,” said Vishwanath.

The Forum for IT Employees (FITE), an association of IT employees of various companies, stated in an online petition, that starting December 8, TCS has been “illegally terminating thousands of its employees with no concern for procedures and the rights of the employees”.

They said that employees with 10-15 years of experience were being “indiscriminately sacked on a massive scale”. The company, which called it ‘restructuring’ also termed it “involuntary attrition”.

A company spokesperson said, “These types of figures are complete nonsense and being spread by vested interest groups.” The spokesperson said that the company is asking “non-performers” to leave in its offices around the world.

“Our involuntary attrition rate is around 3,000-3,500 people annually, which includes people leaving for other jobs or retiring. We have just begun a process of hiring around 55,000 people through campus interviews and elsewhere,” the spokesperson said, without specifying the number of employees being retrenched.

Sources said that while the exercise is likely to affect both onsite and offsite employees, those likely to be most affected are staff in mid-to-senior level positions. FITE members, however, complained that there are no monitoring or grievance redressal mechanisms in place at the government’s end to check such terminations.

TCS employees have been clueless on the sudden decision to call people and serve notices without giving specific reasons. One employee in Kochi alleged that he was asked to sign on a pre-written resignation letter on pain of dismissal if he refused to sign. “Even during the recession of 2009, the company did not resort to this kind of action,” said an employee from Bengaluru.

Some sources said that every vertical of TCS has been asked to identify senior staffers who have not been “productive”. “As per company policy, those who get D and E rankings will be put under PIP (performance improvement programmes) and this will last six months. Even after that, if they remain in that bracket, only then does the company decide to terminate employees from service with due compensation,” another employee from Kochi said.

Employees also alleged that TCS has started benching employees after taking them off projects. “All of a sudden, they are called by the HR department and senior management to a meeting and informed that they are non-performers. This is unfair,” said a TCS employee.

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