Do you know who the most suppressed working class is? The answer for this question would make you to wonder, according to surveys and reports says that BPO and IT workers are, considered a pampered lot by some, actually spend long hours at the computer and telephone, with almost no breaks. Their work is repetitive and intensive, with unrealistically high targets and constant surveillance, Eighty per cent work overtime thrice a week, and 24% report work-related health problems. in order to deny them labour rights, management describes them as IT professionals, not workmen. Workers who oppose management policies are subjected to harassment, isolated from their colleagues, kept away from work, and eventually forced to quit. Employees are hired on contracts that allow the employer to terminate employment without prior notice, and it is an offence to discuss employment-related matters with colleagues.Union activism can also put the employee on an industry blacklist. This has discouraged trade unions from aggressively organising in this industry.
In an unprecedented move, that will surely be applauded by many in the BPO industry, a case has been filed against IBM Daksh in the Labor Court of Gurgaon against the unfair labor practices, failure to follow the Principles of Natural Justice and for the violation of provisions as laid down in the Constitution of India.
As a reflection of its callous attitude and an autocratic, authoritative style of management, with total neglect of employees’ right, IBM Daksh terminated the services of a long-term employee, on charges never made known to the said employee.
It is a globally accepted standard of procedures as laid down in Article 7 of the C158 Termination of Employment Convention, 1982 and the decisions held by the courts.
Explaining the Constitutional provisions of the Principles of Natural Justice, the Supreme Court held that the rules of natural justice require that —
(1) charged employee should be given notice of the charges he is called upon to explain and the allegations on which those are based;
(2) evidence should be taken in the presence of the charged employee;
(3) he should be given opportunity to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses;
(4) he should have the opportunity of adducing all relevant evidence on which he relies;
(5) no material should be relied on against him without giving him an opportunity of explaining such material.
IBM Daksh failed to prepare a charged sheet to enable the employee to make a defence. This is an Unfair Labor Practice mentioned in the Schedule V of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.
Due to the gravity of the charges leveled and the life-long implication of the foreseen decision, it is seen as very unbecoming on the part of IBM Daksh for its failure to initiate a full-fledged inquiry. This not only betrays the spirit of the management as well as is against the mandatory provisions laid down in the relevant Indian Law.
As has been charged by the employee,IBM Daksh neither validated the veracity of the charges nor prepared a charge sheet, but proceeded to pronounce the employee as guilty.
Before the initiation of a departmental inquiry, the employee was asked to resign and in the failure to do so, would be terminated. This reflects a malafide intention on the part of the IBM Daksh.
The employee has also charged IBM Daksh for its refusal to release the copies of statement of charges leveled, investigation details and report, if any, audio recordings of the proceedings and own representation. In a communication to the employee, IBM Daksh refused to divulge the same stating that it is an old case. This is against the laws of the land.Apart from these charges, IBM Daksh failed to pay the employee the incentives due and has held back the same.
Govt should take immediate steps to amend laws which encourage unions to protect the rights of the IT workers. If Govt. takes initiative steps to standardize the unions, then there are N. number of cases will have been filed against top IT companies by employees without any fear. This is the only way to protect our skilled manpower from exploitation.