F.I.T.E – Press Release – Full Support and Solidarity to Country Wide Strike on September 2nd 2016

As a symbol of collective resistance, September 2nd 2016 will see crores of workers in India hitting the streets protesting various anti-labour measures undertaken by the Government of India headed by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Same day last year, an estimated 15 crore workers participated in the strike and showed their resistance against the amendments to labour laws that would have adverse effects on the people. But the government had not heeded to the demands of the working class and has been displaying iron hand in implementing anti-labour “reforms”. The amendment to Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act was vehemently opposed and its repeal was one of the demands during last year’s strike. But last month, the amendment to this Child Labour Act had been passed in the parliament. Thus making our Children at the age of 14 to be employed in family businesses, even in hazardous chemical mixing units and brick-kilns “as per law”. Few months back, the Central Government attempted to tighten EPF (Employee Provident Fund) withdrawal rules, there by not allowing the employees to withdraw complete PF money till the age of 58. The announcement was rolled back after continued protests successfully undertaken by thousands of Garment workers, many of them women in the city of Bengaluru.

In the IT / ITES sector too we are seeing exploitation and violations of the existing labour policies. The rampant practices of forced resignation, long working hours, biased appraisal systems etc are becoming the norm. However, the IT and ITES employees have started questioning and resisting these unfair labour practices. We, Forum for I.T Employees (F.I.T.E) have been fighting against various anti employee practices present lavishly in the IT and ITES sector. Having continuously been fighting various court cases against illegal job terminations (dubbed as “layoffs”) in this sector, we are fully aware of the importance of strong labour laws for all the employees of the country, including 45 lakh employees present in the IT/ITES sector. The proposed amendments by the government dilutes the existing labour laws instead of strengthening them. ‘Hire and Fire’ mode of employee engagement is a frequent practice in this corporate sector. In the present scenario where IT/ITES employees are struggling to have atleast the existing labour laws be applicable to them, relaxing these laws is only likely to aggravate the ‘Use and Throw’ attitude of the employers. Employing workers’ on contractual basis even though the nature of job is perennial, is a problem that is widely prevalent in our industry. By engaging in this activity, the employers absolve themselves from the responsibility of giving employee benefits, equal wages and job security to the contractual workers.

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Besides these problems, the continued rise of price in various essential commodities including Dal and Petrol is being unchecked and it truly affects every day livelihood of all the workers of the country. According to the principles laid down by the Supreme Court and the Indian Labour Conference, the minimum wages of an employee is calculated to be Rs. 18,000. But the Government has proposed it to be a meagre 6098 rupees and hence the demand of raising the minimum wages to Rs. 18,000 is well justified. The strike that has been organized demands solution to aforementioned problems and much more. Acknowledging the deteriorating conditions of legal and social security of employees, F.I.T.E on behalf of lakhs of IT/ITES Employees pledge our full support and solidarity to the country wide strike organized on September 2nd by various Trade Unions of the country.

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