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IT employees’ union seeks tribunals to fast-track cases on lay-offs in industry


A union of employees from the IT industry in Maharashtra has sought the setting up of special tribunals to try cases related to “illegal” lay-offs of employees by software companies. Pavanjit Mane, member of the Maharashtra state IT committee, said tribunals would help fast-track such cases which otherwise may remain pending for years.

Over the years, software majors in Pune have seen a series of lay-offs as companies went about rationalising their workforce. Most of those who were laid off were mid-career employees who were suddenly left without a job. Forum for IT Employees (FITE) was formed as the first union for such IT employees and cases were filed with the office of the labour officer for reconciliation. This was the first time that such unions were formed in the sector. Cases that were not adequately remedied at the office of the labour commissioner were referred to labour courts which try industrial and other cases as well.

Mane, who is also the state coordinator of FITE, said fast-track tribunals are the only way to ensure that IT employees get justice within a reasonable time frame. “We have been requesting the government to consider setting up fast-track tribunals to address the bottleneck. The IT industry has received sops from the government, but the employees – who are the industry’s backbone – have not received anything substantial. Fast-track courts will ensure that they get justice,” he said.

He admitted that their knowledge about the process was limited when they first began to seek justice for “illegal lay-offs”. “We were new to the process and as such, it is our learning curve. Our first aim was to bring about a legal framework within which IT employees can be protected and assured of their rights,” Mane said. The union took up cases of employees who were terminated abruptly and filed for intervention with the labour officer.

However, he pointed out, most cases failed at the stage of reconciliation and were referred to labour courts. The backlog of cases meant most cases are yet to come to any conclusion. Mane said they had filed around 40 cases, some of which have now come up for cross-examination. “The labour courts have a large backlog of cases. In such cases, it would be years before the cases filed recently would come to a legal conclusion,” he said. As the companies that have laid off employees have custody of the employee’s documents, he expressed fears that they may also tamper with the records.

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