Unionisation of It Sector-Good or Bad?


Indranil Bose
Department of Business Administration
B.B. College

IT-sector in India is passing through the phase of rapid growth and sect oral expansion comprising  of two main areas : IT / Software development sector and IT-enabled /BPO sector.

Though the IT /software development sector is a highly specialised area and requires specialised knowledge from highly qualified professionals  ,yet the BPO/IT-enabled sector is being run by more or less mediocre  candidates with basic computing and communication skill. It is clear that  combining IT and IT-enabled sectors , about one million jobs have been created throughout the country ,which is increasing at the rate of 20%-25% per annum. But, this large work-force is still un-organised. It must not be true that at least  a portion of this huge work-force has no problem in their professional life.

Some of the fundamental grievances on employment and related matters of this industry are still unanswered. The issue trade-unionism is getting importance day by day in this context.

Some of the unresolved issues are:

1) High level of insecurity of job among BPO employees.

2) Excessively difficult job conditions regarding total duration of a single shift (which crosses even beyond nine hours a day).

3) Inequality in salary  and other benefits within the same industry.

4) No organised platform to represent the voice of the workers.

It is true that many of the employees of this sector are sceptical about raise their grievances for loosing their jobs. Employers are well organised and highly influential  as a lobby to the  regulatory bodies. So, the voice of the IT-enabled sector employees remains unheard for long time.

Unionisation in IT sector, the main brand ambassador of the country in the world , is therefore a true subject of much debate and discussion.

Trade unions in India , has shown some of the ugliest faces of negative agitation. Trade unionists are today perceived as the mere professional agitators without any proper connection to the industry. Excessive political interference , external leadership etc. are some of the issues ,which has made the trade-unions not only unpopular , but also a counter force to economic development.

But , all is not dark. The companies with proven track-record of employee welfare and true initiative of workers' participation in management , like the TATAs, Reliance, BHEL, ONGC, Indian Oil , ITC etc. are enjoying the fruits of constructive trade-unionism . New economy companies like INFOSYS , Wipro , Satyam , Dr. Reddy's Lab etc. , though have no trade-unions in their organisation, yet practice sophisticated and innovative HRD initiatives  to attract, retain and effectively utilise the manpower for the growth and prosperity of the company.

BPO strong holds in the country like Bangalore, Gurgaon , Kolkata etc. are experiencing consolidation of their work force. But political muscles are being shown behind these initiates. AITUC, CITU etc.are already in the field. The apprehension just lies there. The vicious circle of external involvement , using the workers' emotions for mere political gains  may once again become the  ultimate  destination.

Therefore, trade-unionism in IT sector may be welcomed , only if the following criteria are consciously met.

    • These unions should be non-political unions.
    • Only the candidates from within the profession should be allowed to hold the office.
    • The issues of the employees should be addressed only .
    • No such step should be taken by the union, which may destabilise the industry operation
    • Responsible attitude is expected and any decision should be taken on unanimous basis.

Indranil Bose
Department of Business Administration
B.B. College

Source: E-mail April 25, 2007


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